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Nigerian Army regrets indiscriminate torture of Guardian staff

Mr. Ahmadu was accosted alongside 500 others including pregnant women while he was on his way to work.

• October 29, 2020
Nigerian army used to illustrate the story
Nigerian army used to illustrate the story

The Nigerian Army says the arrest and detention of Saifu Ahmadu, a driver with Guardian Newspaper in Oyigbo, a Rivers community that has witnessed unrest of recent is unintentional.

Mr. Ahmadu was accosted alongside 500 others including pregnant women while he was on his way to work. They were subjected to corporal punishment for long hours, according to his testimony.

An army spokesman Charles Ekeocha told NAN in Port Harcourt that the incident was a mistake and not meant to witch-hunt the newspaper staff. He said Mr. Ahmadu was detained alongside others during an operation by the army in Oyigbo and some parts of Obio/Akpor LGA.

“They [soldiers] accosted him when was coming out in the morning, according to the person that told me about it. Mr. Ekeocha explained. “They took him just like they are taking on some people in the area, but I vouched for him and asked them to release him, and he was released.”

Narrating his experience, Mr. Ahmadu said that he was accosted alongside others at 6:00 a.m. while walking down from TAP Road, Iriebe in Obio/Akpor LGA to a junction  where he could board a vehicle to work.

“I came out around 6:00am to walk down to Eleme junction because of the curfew in the area, but when I got to TAP junction, I saw a large crowd of people stranded.

“I noticed that people were raising their hands to walk across to the area the Nigerian Army were, but unknown to us it was a trick for them to arrest people.

“As we were walking with our hands up, the army officers started hitting us with their stick, and when we got to trailer park junction, they ordered us to lie down,” he alleged.

Mr. Ahmadu said they laid down for over 30 minutes at different spots even in drainage channels before the soldiers asked them to sit up.

“I saw over 500 people laying down, among were pregnant women, market women and others that were heading to their workplaces.

“I was there until around 2:00 p.m. when I approached the officers that I am a driver with Guardian Newspaper, even at that they refused to listen.

“It was their boss, one of the officers I approached that ordered them to let me go,” he said.

Some residents of Oyigbo LGA, pleading anonymity, said they were under serious panic because of gunshot in the air.

They pleaded that the government should call the military to order to avoid recording loss of human life.


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