Supporters of leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, were said to have been wounded when armed soldiers allegedly invaded his home at Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State, on Sunday.
About three Hilux vans loaded with heavily-armed soldiers were said to have been stationed near the house of the IPOB leader.
This came as Kanu alleged that the soldiers were shooting sporadically as they approached his father’s compound, causing panic and pandemonium among residents of the area.
He said they wanted to gain entry into his father’s compound but that IPOB members quickly formed human shield around it and resisted them.
But in a swift reaction, the army and the police denied the alleged invasion.
According to Kanu, “I was sleeping this evening (Sunday) when I was woken up by the blaring of sirens. Initially, I thought it was the commissioner of police who lives in the neighbourhood that was returning home. But the blaring persisted and was followed up by sporadic gunshots.
“They wanted to bulldoze their way into the palace but IPOB members formed human shield and resisted them. They wanted to break the shield, they fired at three persons and wounded others before leaving. Everybody, including children, was running away in confusion.”
Kanu said he had not received any invitation from any security agency and wondered why the army would want to invade his home.
He, however, said no amount of intimidation would make him abandon the struggle for Biafra independence.
Kanu’s father and the traditional ruler of Afaraukwu community, Eze Israel Kanu, also corroborated his son’s claim, describing the invasion as “unwarranted and shocking.”
The traditional ruler said his son committed no crime to warrant military invasion of his palace.
When contacted, however, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 14 Brigade, Ohafia, Major Gbadamosi Oyegoke, said soldiers went to Afara Ukwu, the IPOB leader’s home town, on normal patrol.
According to Major Oyegoke, on getting to the road leading to the IPOB leader’s home, his members blocked them from passing through. He also denied that the soldiers “shoot at or kill anybody.”
The statement read: “The attention of 14 Brigade Nigerian Army has been drawn to fictitious news going round, especially on the social media, that troops invaded the home of Nnamdi Kanu and killed three persons.
“This is far from the truth. Rather, it was a group of suspected IPOB militants that blocked the road against troops of 145 Battalion while on show-of-force along FMC-World Bank Road in Umuahia town, Abia State, at about 6.00-6.30 p.m. today [Sunday]. They insisted that the military vehicles would not pass and started pelting the soldiers with stones and broken bottles to the point of injuring an innocent female passerby and a soldier, Corporal Kolawole Mathew.
“The troops fired warning shots in the air and the hoodlums dispersed. No life was lost.
“Therefore, the public are kindly enjoined to disregard the rumours going round and the fictitious photographs of purported victims of the attack. Both the soldier and the innocent female passerby have been evacuated to the unit’s medical inspection room and are receiving treatment.
“We would like to use this opportunity to warn mischief-makers threatening the peace and security of the country through falsehood such as above.
“Members of the public are please requested to go about their lawful businesses and report any suspicious activity to the nearest police station or security outfit.”
Corroborating this, the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Leye Oyebade, said “there was no attack on the home of Nnamdi Kanu” on Sunday evening.
According to him, “what happened was that the military was parading a new armoured carrier and passed through Kanu’s residence.
“It was while they were passing that some people threw stones and other things at them.”
The police chief said normalcy had been restored and no life was lost during what he termed minor skirmish, adding that Kanu was neither targeted nor arrested.
Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, in a statement, said what transpired at the home of the leader of IPOB was a siege.