The PUNCH reports that the 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt has refuted the allegations that its troops shot at, and manhandled protesting youths and women in Rumuekpe community, Emuoha Local Government Area of Rivers State on Thursday.
Recall that the Executive Director of the Youths and Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene had in a statement issued in Port Harcourt alleged that two persons were rushed to the hospital while the whereabouts of a third person allegedly injured by the soldiers at the scene of the protest was unknown.
Also, some of the protesters alleged that in a bid to disperse them, the troops destroyed canopies they erected and seized their electronic equipment.
The PUNCH correspondent reported that some people in Rumuekpe, including women and elders in the community have been protesting the alleged failure of multinational companies operating in their community to meet their demands.
The acting Deputy Director, Public Relations, 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Major Jonah Danjuma Jonah in a statement issued on Thursday night said the situation in Rumuekpe was an attempt by some miscreants who disguised as protesters to take the laws into their hands.
Major Danjuma said even though the ‘miscreants’ barricaded the road and attempted to stop troops on routine patrol access to a flow station where they were providing security, soldiers did not shoot to disperse them.
While noting that the allegations against the army were false and malicious, he said the troops are trained professionals who conduct themselves by adhering to the rules of engagement with respect for the rights of citizens, adding that he was at the scene and saw things for himself.
He stated, “I’m sure you are aware of the situation at Rumuekpe, where there was an attempt by some miscreants who disguised as protesters to take the laws into their hands.
“I was there; these miscreants barricaded the road leading into the community and attempted to stop troops on routine patrol access to a flow station where they are providing security from carrying out their responsibilities.
“The allegation that troops shot at peaceful protesters is illogical, malicious, and totally untrue. It is false and must be disregarded.
“Our troops are well-trained professionals who conduct themselves and operations by adhering to the rules of engagement and utmost respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
“So, there is no iota of doubt in what they are alleging. Good a thing I was there and if they have any evidence that what they are alleging happened, they should provide us with such evidence.”
While urging members of the public to disregard what he termed an ‘illogical allegation, the spokesman said ”it is a futile attempt to malign the reputation of the Nigerian Army.”
“I will reassure the good people of Rivers State, particularly Rumuekpe and environs to go about their normal businesses as no criminal gang would be allowed freedom of action to operate in the area,” he added.