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Army denies burning houses, shops in Imo

The Nigerian Army on Tuesday, denied setting ablaze  houses, shops and other commercial ventures in Awo-Mmamma, in Oru East Council of Imo State on Monday.

Recall that some Military officers were accused of committing arson in alleged reprisal attack following reports of suspected hoodlums’ killing an officer.

It was gathered that over 20 shops, eight houses, a hotel, 17 vehicles, six tricycles and four motorcycles, among other valuable items were razed during the incident.

In a statement issued by the Acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division, Abubakar Abdullahi, said the military only went to the scene to disperse members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) who were compelling people to comply with the Mondays sit-at-home order.

The statement reads, “Troops conducting Exercise Golden Dawn dispersed IPOB and ESN hoodlums carrying out arson, while enforcing the sit-at-home order imposed by the proscribed group in Awo-Mmamma Community, Oru East Council of Imo State on November 22, 2021.

“In the quest to compel citizens to comply with the illegal order, IPOB and ESN hoodlums harassed, intimidated and physical abused commuters, who were going about their legitimate businesses.

“They burnt and destroyed homes and businesses at Ishieke junction (along Owerri-Onitsha expressway) as a vendetta against Imo people for not complying with the illegal order.”

The statement also added that the hoodlums blocked the highway and set ablaze a commercial vehicle heading to Onitsha but the troops who responded to the distress calls from motorist and shop owners moved to the scene and engaged the hoodlums in a gun duel.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba in a statement signed by the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, described the attack as regrettable and unacceptable. He ordered an investigation into the incident to unravel the cause of the crisis and the loss of life and property.

The statement said, “Imo State Government is shocked and dismayed over the events at Awommamma.

“Government condemns the killing of a soldier by the unknown gunmen. Certainly, the soldier who was on a legitimate duty to ensure free flow of traffic and protect life and property did not deserve to die such a gruesome death.”