As the onslaught on residents of Oyigbo, a community in Rivers State, continues, SaharaReporters have uncovered how those arrested by soldiers are being detained alongside Boko Haram terrorists.
The onslaught in Oyigbo started after the Nigerian military claimed that some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra attacked security posts as they stole weapons, killed some security personnel, and burnt police stations.
The government had claimed that six soldiers and four policemen were killed in Oyigbo.
Under the guise of arresting the perpetrators whom the military claimed lived in Oyigbo, troops were deployed to the community, embarking on a killing spree and the arrest of people, mainly young men.
The activities of the military were aided by the curfew declared by the state government immediately after the soldiers invaded the community.
Some residents, who spoke with SaharaReporters said the soldiers shot at unarmed residents with the intent to kill while arresting anyone, who attempted to confront them or was lucky enough to escape being killed.
According to the police and media reports, 30 Oyigbo residents the authorities suspected to be IPOB members have been arrested while the government has been silent on the killings in the community.
However, SaharaReporters has discovered that more than 30 persons were arrested by the joint operations of soldiers and police officers.
The police announced a deflated figure of 30 while others are being transported out of the state for detention and probably torture.
SaharaReporters gathered that the soldiers airlifted those arrested to an underground prison inside Wawa Cantonment, New Bussa, Kainji, Niger State.
The prison, over the decade, has been known for detaining hundreds of Boko Haram suspects arrested during the ongoing insurgency in the Northern part of the country.
Confirming the airlifting of Oyigbo residents to SaharaReporters, an official at the Nigeria Airforce Base, Port Harcourt, said the military ordered all workers to leave the flight line in order for anyone not to identify those to be airlifted.
“The Nigerian Army brought in some guys perceived to have been arrested either on protest ground or in Oyigbo to the Airforce base in Port Harcourt.
“They were to be airlifted through the C-130 military aircraft to an unknown location.
“We could not know who they were or where they were taking them to because the military asked the airmen to leave the flight line so nobody sees what was going on,” the official said as he substantiated findings by SaharaReporters.
Attempts by SaharaReporters to contact the spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sagir Musa, was unsuccessful as he ignored both calls and messages sent to his mobile number.
Meanwhile, a resident of Oyigbo said he saw soldiers burn down the house of a man, who sheltered four soldiers from attacks by hoodlums.
The man said a stray bullet shot by the army hit and killed a little child in his compound as well.
“Four of their soldiers ran into the house to be rescued and the man in the house helped them with new clothes. One of them was able to run away but the hoodlums killed the other three.
“The army broke bottle and stabbed the man, I think he survived.”
This was not the only act of destruction the source could testify to.
“On Saturday they went to a place called Ohafia quarters, there are some boys going with them showing them all these places, we don’t know who they are,” he narrated.
“They went there and burnt down a shrine and destroyed buildings.”
He said the military personnel in the area also shot into the air on Friday morning, forcing people to take cover in their homes.
Another resident, who spoke of the onslaught by the military, stated that the army blew out the brains of someone taking cover in a part of the community called Obaema.
According to him, this happened around the same time the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, was on a tour of the LGA amidst heavy security.
He said an aircraft was hovering close to the ground and scaring residents.
He stated, “Helicopter has been going around Oyigbo, like it wants to land, people have been running helter-skelter.”
He said the LGA has been deserted as well.
The source added that the squabble between the army and hoodlums, which started on the night of October 20, has put residents of the local government under immense hardship.
“These hoodlums, we don’t really know who they are. We are really regretting that they went and burnt those police stations because we are really suffering,” the resident added.