Headlinenews.news reports that residents of Owerewere, Aminigboko, Egunughan, and Emesu communities in the Emughan clan have fled their homes due to alleged brutality by military personnel in Abua-Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Some residents informed Punch on Thursday that they evacuated the area, seeking refuge in the bush to avoid attacks and torture by men in military uniforms.
They claimed that the soldiers began harassing and disrupting the peace of their communities immediately after the incident in Ahoada/Abua East-West axis on December 12, 2023.
Gunmen reportedly shot four soldiers and two drivers dead while kidnapping two expatriates of the Daewoo company along the Ahoada/Abua East-West axis in Rivers State.
It was gathered that the Nigerian Army has now occupied these communities, forcing residents to flee, leaving them stranded in the bush where they share homes with snakes and other reptiles.
A man identified as Bryan Honour, an indigene of the Emughan Clan, stated that the military men invaded the communities to avenge the soldiers’ deaths but ended up attacking innocent civilians.
“On December 12, unknown men killed four soldiers and two drivers; now, the soldiers came back and started attacking the whole clan, which consists of about four communities. They chased people, beat grandmothers, grandfathers, and two people even died.
“All this happened because of the attack on their soldiers, and it is happening to innocent communities. Mothers and children have been sleeping in the bush because of these military men. They were just beating people, some even died. Most of the youths are not with the residents in the bush; some are not even in Port Harcourt due to the situation,” he said.
Progress Ekomodi, a resident, mentioned they were maltreated by the uniformed men and had to live in the bush.
“It was unknown gunmen that kidnapped the white men and killed the soldiers; they were now flogging old women, chasing young women and children. The bush is now our shelter; we feed on palm kernels and water leaf. We have different camps, and we are more than two hundred in my camp here,” he said.
Another resident, Beauty Ekom, described life in the bush as a terrible experience, with hunger leading to deaths due to a lack of access to medical care and food.
“People fall sick every day in this bush; we are hungry, and there is nothing to eat. Very soon, school will resume, and there is no way our children will go back to school. The government should come to our rescue.
“People die in this bush every day; the stench from their decomposing bodies disturbs us. Come and help us; there is nothing to eat; we are starving. Some of our children are sick, and we do not know how to treat them,” she said.
However, when contacted, Jonah Danjuma, the spokesperson for 6 Division, Nigeria Army, refuted the claim, stating that the troops’ mission was to apprehend the gunmen responsible for attacking them.
“I am sure you are aware of the unprovoked and unwarranted attack on our troops by suspected militants within their vicinity on December 13, 2023. Since then, our troops have been conducting operations to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
“It is on record that our troops have a pedigree of conducting operations in line with global best practices of adhering to the rules of engagement and respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
“Thus, the allegation of harassment of innocent people is baseless and remains largely unsubstantiated. It is also important to state that these criminals operated within their vicinity, and so they have a responsibility to expose them rather than to resort to blackmail and unwarranted propaganda,” Danjuma said.