The Commander of the 14 Brigade Nigeria Army, Ohafia, Brigadier-General Abdul Kalifah Ibrahim has said that soldier who conducted the military invasion of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, Umuahia on Tuesday would be punished.
The Army Chief who visited the press centre in company of the Naval Commander, School of Finance Logistics, Owerrinta, Capt Abdulahi Aminu, apologised for the attack, describing it as a disaster of unimaginable proportions.
General Ibrahim promised to fish out the soldiers who carried out the unauthorised operation with a view to sanctioning them and called on journalists not to allow the invasion of their office to cause any bad blood between the army and them.
While commending the journalists for their comportment and maturity during the invasion, the General promised to pay for the gadgets damaged by his men.
He also promised to pay for the cell phone belonging to one of the journalists which went missing after the attack and warned soldiers to respect the rights of civilians during the operation python dance.
After his visit, the deputy Director of Army Information, Col Musa Sagay in Enugu came on behalf of the General Officer Commanding, 82 division of the Nigerian Army, Major Gen Adamu Abubakar and condemned the action of the soldiers.
Col Sagay said immediately his boss heard what happened, he was detailed to go to Umuahia to meet with journalists and appeal to them for calm as the Army is on top of the situation.
“It is regrettable that this ugly incident happened to a group of people I have known and worked with since 2010-2011 when kidnapping was at its peak in the state and I would not want that cordial relationship to be spoiled.
“I am in Umuahia on behalf of my boss Gen Abubakar who is the commander of 82 Div Enugu to express our concern over what happened on Tuesday which is not the normal way we operate.
“I want to assure you that all those who took part in the action against journalists will be fished out and dealt accordingly, the Operation Egwu Eke (Python Dance) will commence from 15th of September to 14th of October and the exercise is not targeted at any group.
“The exercise is targeted at all security flash points in the entire South East geopolitical zone which is the reason behind the army show of force but it is targeted at kidnappings, armed robbery, cultism, insurgency and session agitators,” Sagay stated.
Col Sagay insisted that there is no military siege at the home of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu as being reported in some sections of the media, adding that the issue of insurgency starts in a small way which the soldiers will not allow.
In his response Ezeogo Bonny Okoro said that it was a shame that the military would invade the NUJ state secretariat over the flimsy excuse that journalists were taking their pictures.
Okoro wondered why the soldiers will not want their pictures taken as journalists would have been doing their job if such action occurred on the side of newsmen, which never took place.
He said that he was slapped, gun cocked at him while his IPad and the phones of his colleagues were smashed by the soldiers and called on the military hierarchy to fish out those behind the dastardly act and deal with them accordingly.