Director of Army Public Relations 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Ikedichi Iweha, tells Emmanuel Obe that there is no evidence linking soldiers to collecting money from illegal bunkering operators in Emohua Communities
Soldiers posted to check illegal bunkering activities in the Emohua – Ahoada axis have been accused of demanding monies from people operating illegal refineries and carrying out bunkering activities in the area. What actions have the Division taken to stop this and punish indicted soldiers?
Our soldiers are professional soldiers. They are deployed strictly for security issues. However, if any member of any community involved in giving our soldiers any form of gratification, please we would like to have such evidence. If you can snap it or hide away and get evidence for us so that we can correct these things. These are not normal things.
So, you mean you have not had reports saying that soldiers posted to those communities have been collecting money from the Kpofire operators?
We don’t have any evidence of any soldier doing that currently. But if anybody has such evidence, they should come in. We can assure them that we treat it with maximum confidentiality and the erring personnel involved will be accordingly sanctioned. There are sanctions in place to correct such abnormalities. So, if they have any evidence they can feel free, come in and share with us. And we will take them in confidence and correct the personnel that are there through the various means of corrections that we have lined up for such issues.
But you don’t wake and allege blindly that our soldiers are. No. That’s not true. That is not a reflection of what is happening.
But we were told your men are always coming to the sites to monitor things?
Our soldiers are consistently there every day, there is no day we don’t destroy one illegal refinery or the other. There is no day that passes that we are not involved in one form of destruction or the other.
And these people keep changing tactics and are still coming up. But one thing you can be sure of is that as soon as we are aware of it we will damage it. Anybody, any item seen is burnt and destroyed in situ (right there). We don’t even take away anything from the site.
So, for them to be alleging that soldiers are collecting money; that is a total fabrication. However, like I said, while not ruling that out completely, if they have such evidence, please they are welcome to share such evidence with us in confidence. That evidence will be treated in confidence and the soldiers so affected will be so sanctioned because we have a sanction mechanism that is place already for such.
There is this specific incident at Rundele where the firearms of soldiers were snatched…
That matter has already been overcome. We have recovered our weapons already. That matter has been overcome by events.
But they said that some community youths are still being detained by the army…
No, no. We don’t have anybody in our custody now.
Everybody that was arrested has been released?