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…Operation’ll continue till missing weapons are recovered — Army

Men of the Nigerian Army have continued to lay siege to Bille community in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, following the alleged killing of their colleague in the area.

It was gathered a military man was killed around Bille territory on Friday by suspected pirates that terrorise the area.

However, on Tuesday, armed soldiers on reprisal, invaded the community. They arrested youths and broke into houses.

Yesterday, the military continued its operation, a development Vanguard gathered has sent many youths and men fleeing the community.

Chairman of Bille Kingdom Chiefs Council,  Bennett Okpoki, cried that Bille Kingdom was under siege by the military, calling for the urgent intervention of the Federal Government.

Okpoki said Bille has been at the mercy of sea pirates, recalling that on Friday, a Port Harcourt-bound boat was attacked and one Mr. Impaisinba Igani killed.

He noted that the matter was also reported to the 29th Battalion Tactical Headquarters of  the Nigerian Army resident in the area, wondering why the military would launch attack on the people, knowing the operations of pirates in the area.

Okpoki said the same criminals had also attacked the military formation and had gun battle with the soldiers, regretting the invasion by the soldiers.

He said: “Bille, a town in Degema council of Rivers State is under siege by the Nigerian military. Since 7a.m., on Tuesday, my people have been under siege, as there are gun shots everywhere by the military.

“The palace of the Amayanabo of Bille was also invaded and the king, HRM LN.C Herbert and his personal aide, Mr. Damiete Alabo, taken away by the military.

“The military later released the king but left with the personal aide in the company of several others that were arrested. Until this moment, their whereabouts are unknown.

“On Tuesday, dozens of soldiers believed to be of the Nigerian Army stormed Bille Town, Headquarters of the Bille Kingdom in many gun boats, broke into houses, shooting sporadically, and many persons injured, alleging that Bille people were responsible for the reported clash with the supposed men in military uniform. Upon that, the King, Amayanabo of Bille Kingdom was ordered to produce the suspects within 48 hours.”

The fear stricken people wondered why the army was attacking innocent community people over the actions of criminal, noting that it was  becoming a regular practice in the region.

He called on the Federal Government, the state government and particularly the Chief of Defence Staff to urgently intervene to curb sea piracy in the area as well ensure release of those arrested by the soldiers in the operation.

Operation’ll continue till missing weapons are recovered — Army

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Major Iweha Ikedichi, said the military was in the area on a cordon and search operation, following an attack on soldiers and carting away of some weapons.

Iweha said: “Our soldiers in the early hours of Tuesday, carried out a cordon and search operation, which is ongoing following the killing of soldiers, who were on internal security operations around Bille community in Degema council of Rivers State, with their weapons carted away.

“So, the operation is currently ongoing and will continue until the weapons of the soldiers are recovered. We solicit members of the community to please volunteer to give information that will lead us to the actual perpetrators of the crime, so that they will be brought to book.

“Usually, when incidences like this happen, criminals will hide in innocent communities and will be crying wolves. About the footage in the media on the conduct of the personnel involved, we will review all of those after the operation and take appropriate action.

“Currently, soldiers are out and the idea is to as quickly as possible recover the weapons and track the perpetrators.”

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