Soldiers chased a truck laden with weapons into a house said to belong to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu’s father in Afara-Ukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State, on September 14, Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai has said.
Gen. Buratai said owners of the truck detonated the explosives on the day Kanu was last seen in public.
He said the suspects’ intention was to frustrate the move to arrest them by the troops
Gen, Buratai stated these in a counter-affidavit he filed in reaction to a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja in Kanu’s name by his lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
The suit seeks, among others, an order to compel Gen. Buratai, listed as defendant, to produce the IPOB leader, who the plaintiff claimed was in the custody of the military.
IPOB claimed, in the suit filed shortly after Kanu went missing, that the soldiers, who allegedly invaded his father’s house on September 14, took him away.
But, in the counter-affidavit deposed to on his behalf by Col. A.A Yusuf, attached to the COAS’s office at the Army Headquarters, Abuja, Gen. Buratai denied the plaintiff’s claim. He said the soldiers had no contact with Kanu
He said: during “a peaceful movement” which was part of the “Operation Python Dance II” on September 14, some soldiers saw a truck and flagged it down, but the truck and its occupants ran over Army’s barricade and defied soldiers’ order stopping them to be searched.
He said the soldiers pursued the fleeing truck, loaded with arms and ammunition, into a compound.
Buratai said the compound turned out to be the one Kanu later claimed, in the suit, to belong to him and his father.
He said soldiers, who pursued the truck into Kanu’s father’s house, did not fire any shot but that the occupants of the fleeing truck deliberately ignited the ammunition in the truck.
“It was the legitimate attempt by the officers and men of the Nigerian Army to arrest the fleeing occupants of the truck and impound the truck that precipitated the deliberate igniting of the ammunition in the truck by persons now believed to be IPOB members.
“The act of the IPOB members resulted in sporadic explosions within the said applicant’s compound.
“The applicant (Kanu) is not and has neither being in our custody nor in the custody of any person, officer or institution receiving instruction directly or indirectly from him.
“The applicant was not at any time whatsoever arrested, taken into custody or detained by the Officers and men of the Nigerian Army.
“The officers and men of the Nigerian Army did not have any contact whatsoever or confrontation or any operational engagement with the applicant on September 12 or 14, 20l7 or any other date thereafter, contrary to the allegations in the affidavit in support of the application.
“The allegation of invasion of the South-Eastern part of Nigeria by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, especially the applicant’s home and or residence is totally false,” the COAS said.
He added that his men, acting in compliance with “approved Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct which prohibit any form of human right abuses” did not kill scores of people during the military operation in the South East as alleged in the suit.
“The allegations of firing of live bullets on the applicant’s relatives, killing of scores of persons, wounding and arrest of many, attack and invasion of applicant’s home, barricade at Isialangwa, arrest and torture of civilians by officers and me of the Nigerian Army, as stated by the deponent, are a figment of his imagination as same are not true,” he said.
The case is expected to come up today for hearing before Justice Binta Nyako.