Abuja - A human rights group, Citizen Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), has absolved the Nigerian military of killing of innocent citizens in Ogoniland, Rivers, on February 22.
The Executive Director of the group, Frank Tietie, who made the group’s position known while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday, described the accusations as false.
Tietie stated that he discovered the truth after a fact-finding mission to Gokana, Yeghe, and Obori communities in Ogoni, Rivers, where the killing was said to have occurred.
"We have called this press conference to denounce certain notions that are inimical to national interest. What are those notions?
"The notion that the Nigerian military causes problem, kills and maims innocent Nigerians, which is so untrue.
"We needed to take the Rivers State re-run elections as a case study, and on that note, I personally went to those flashpoints particularly places like Gokana, Yeghe and Obori.
"We found out that what happened on Feb. 22 in an Ogoni community called Yeghe was actually an encounter between certain cultists, who were followers of one Solomon Ndigbara, who actually engaged the army in a shootout.
"My findings from the citizens, including the video evidence and other records that I made, showed that there were only three persons that they could prove to have died in the course of that encounter, whereas the military is said to have killed over 45 persons.
"Nothing could be more untrue. We must be very careful.
"If the only institution we rely on to guarantee human security in Nigeria would now be used as a scapegoat by political and cult elements, particularly in the case of Rivers State, where even human rights group like the Civil Liberty Organisation can make spurious statements just because they belong or are persuaded by one political divide or the other, we would be working against the national interest and it will demoralise the army."
Also read: Why we invaded Ogoniland - Army
Tietie noted that the military, by its operations through the 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army had been the saving grace of the citizens in Rivers State.
According to him, the carnage planned by the political and cult groups in the state would have been unimaginable if not for the intervention of the force.
He corroborated the army’s claims that the violence in Rivers was an offshoot of the clashes between cult elements being used by politicians to pursue their selfish ambitions.
The executive director stated that CASER has decided to make the truth known to the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, which has launched a probe into the matter.
He added that CASER will urge the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute "all those, who have denigrated the Nigerian Army’’ through false allegations.
"The unwholesome, unsubstantiated and unfounded allegations made by the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) against the Nigerian Army should be investigated.
"The CLO should also be prosecuted for claiming in a petition that the Nigerian Army committed “genocide” in Yeghe on February 22, whereas, such an allegation, by CASER finding, is most unfounded."