By Abiodun OBA
The allegation by one Aigbogo Emmanuel that personnel of the 4 Brigade of Nigerian Army, Benin are interfering in land and leadership tussles in Obagie-Nevbuosa community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo is said to be misleading and frivolous.
The spokesman of the Brigade, Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, Capt. Yemi Sokoya, stated in a statement made available to journalists on Saturday in Benin.
Sokoya emphasized that no amount of blackmail will deter its personnel from routing out criminal elements in the state.
According to him, “In the video, Emmanuel is heard making some frivolous allegations that 4 Brigade Nigerian Army is taking side with some persons involved in leadership tussles in Ikpoba-Okha LGA.
“He also alleged that the 4 Brigade Nigerian Army are colluding with criminals in the community.
“He alleged that the General Officer Commanding 2 Division was given 20 million Naira by some persons to deploy soldiers in Obagie-Nevbuosa community.”
Sokoya however, said the claims were not just misleading and frivolous but were capable of causing distractions in the ongoing military operations within the state.
He, however, noted that the only military operations that remained conspicuous in the state and within the mentioned community, were the ongoing operations Still Water 3.
“It may be recalled that the Nigerian Army approved and flagged off different military operations in the country to provide adequate security before, during and after the yuletide season.
“One of such operations is exercise Still Waters III which is currently ongoing in Edo State.
“The Exercise was flagged off by Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki on Nov.9, 2023 at the Exercise STILL WATER III Step-Up Headquarters in Okoroma community in Ikpoba-Okha LGA of the state.”
The Brigade spokesperson said Ikpoba-Okha general area was chosen as the step-up headquarters because of the prevalence of kidnapping activities, cultism and ritual killings in the general area.
“Since the operations started; 4 Brigade troops have maintained an offensive posture and conducted raids on criminal hideouts, arrested dissidents and recovered arms and ammunition.
“Notably, on Oct. 18, based on credible information, our troops responded swiftly to a distress call of a suspected kidnap victim at Obagie-Novbuosa community; 2 kidnap suspects were arrested.
“On sighting our troops, one of the suspects opened fire on the Commander of the operation – luckily the bullet could not penetrate due to fragmental jacket worn by the officer.
“During the encounter, troops rescued a kidnap victim; Miss Blessing Uwenze aged 22 years; a native of Aniri Local Government Area of Enugu residing at Obagie community.
“Among numerous items recovered by troops include 2 X Tata/Strom magnum pump action gun, 4 X live cartridges, charms,1 X Rizzler, 3 X lighters and the sum of Three Hundred Naira only. “
He explained that “The suspects were subsequently handed over to the Headquarters Edo Police Command.
“It is instructive to note that; the presence of 4 Brigade troops at Obagie-Novebuosa is as a result of the ongoing exercise Still Water III to rout out the criminal elements in the general area and the state at large not because of any leadership tussle.
“It should also be noted that troops are deployed in aid of the civil authorities as stipulated by section 217(c) of the 1999 constitution.
“The troops of 4 Brigade Nigerian Army are professionals and will continue to remain apolitical in their operations and interaction with the populace.
“The 4 Brigade Nigerian Army has kept these criminal elements out of business hence the reason for the unsubstantiated allegations of leadership tussle meddling.
“The commander 4 Brigade Nigerian Army has enjoined all well-meaning people of Edo state to continue to support the command with credible and actionable information that will assist in clutching and stampede the criminal elements during and after the yuletide season,” the statement added.