Ughelli – The Nigerian Army has denied alleged invasion of Gelegele Community in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State, saying that claims of Ijaw Youth Council of military build-up were untrue and malicious.
The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) worldwide had alleged that the military invasion of Gelegele was, as a result, an ongoing deep seaport project and they warned that the moves by Governor Obaseki to sack the Ijaw people who “are aborigines of Gelegele” from their homes over the Gelegele seaport project would trigger unprecedented crisis in the region.
President of the group, Eric Omare, in a statement last week said the Gelegele people informed the IYC that the military officers said that they are in the community to enforce a purported Supreme Court judgment.
While condemning “this unconstitutional use of the military to intimidate the Ijaw people of Gelegele Community”, IYC said there is no Supreme Court judgment which demands that the Gelegele people should be evicted under any circumstances.
But the Nigeria Army in its reaction to the allegations of invasion through the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa in a statement on Friday, said that the troops deployed to Gelegele community have been there since 2011 for the protection of critical infrastructure and to effectively checkmate militancy in the area.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a malicious story making around in an online publication insinuating/alleging that military build-up around Gelegele Community in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State was intended to ignite crisis.
“While the Nigerian Army represented by 4 Brigade in the area is not willing to join issues with the author. It is, however, essential to state that as a professional Army, it would not be involved in any form of land dispute or conflict with law-abiding members of GeleGele Community or any other community in Nigeria.
“For clarity, the troops deployed to GeleGele Community have been there since 2011 for the protection of critical infrastructure and to effectively checkmate militancy in the area. The troops in the area are not under the operational command and control of 4 Brigade as claimed, but are under the command of Operation DELTA SAFE. Consequently, the allegation that the Brigade Commander is involved in the deployment of troops or invasion of Gelegele locality is false and should be disregarded by the public and members of the community.
“The Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt Gen TY Buratai will not condone the harassment of law-abiding individuals or groups, talk less of grabbing land belonging to any community anywhere in Nigeria.
“The Brigade is however mandated to remain firm, fair and not to be deterred from decisively fighting criminal elements in the State. The Brigade will also continue to live peacefully with all law-abiding communities in its Area of Responsibility.
“Members of the public are hereby enjoined to continue to cooperate with security agencies by giving credible information on criminal elements and activities in their midst for necessary action”.