Army arrests soldier training militants, uncover arms cache in Rivers state

...Militants

…Militants

Lt.-Col. Timothy Opurum, Commanding Officer of 2 Brigade Garrison of
the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, made this known to the Agency of
Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

Opurum said the soldier, a member of 13-man -militant gang alleged to

have been terrorising many communities in Rivers, deserted the army in
2002.

“Based on intelligence reports, we carried out a sting operation
where we captured 13 members militant gang including their notorious
kingpin leader, simply known as Kenneth.

“We also arrested a soldier, who deserted the army in 2002 and
specialised in training of militants in weapons handling and operational
tactics.

“The soldier (names withheld), who is a Private, joined the army in
1998 and served in 331 Artillery Regiment Kalapanzi Barracks in Kaduna
before he was declared missing in 2002.

“The soldier, who is related to the kingpin of the militant group, is
still in our custody and will be released to prosecuting agencies after
formal dismissal from the army,” he said.

Opurum said that troops raided the community on account of incessant
cases of militancy, kidnapping, piracy, cultism and killings which
occurred regularly in the area.

The commanding officer said that intelligence revealed that the
community was not only serving as hideout for criminals but hoodlums
were also storing caches of arms and ammunition in the area.

He said the raid was “highly successful” as arms and ammunitions were recovered by troops during the operation.

“However, some of the arms and ammunitions had already been moved by the militants before our troops arrived at the community.

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“Twelve suspects excluding the deserter-soldier, the arms and
ammunitions had been handed over to the state Directorate of
Services (DSS) for further investigation and prosecution,” he said.

Opurum, who led the operation, however, denied allegation that troops
opened fire on innocent fishermen and traders, and destroyed their
wares during its operation in the community.

According to him, it is highly untrue that soldiers assaulted
innocent civilians during the operation to mop up arms and criminality
in Kula community.

“There was no case or cases of manhandling both on the part of
civilians and on the suspects who were arrested over their involvement
in gun running activities,” he said.

The ruler of Opu-Kula in Akuku-Toru, Hope Opusingi, alleged that
soldiers battered his people and destroyed property worth millions of
Naira during the raid on his community.

Opusingi claimed that soldiers invaded his community “under the guise
of carrying out a presidential directive against oil theft and attacked
harmless elders and innocent fishing settlements.”

The monarch said the action by the army was an abuse of power and a gross violation of the right of his people. (NAN)

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