By Chimaobi Nwaiwu – Nnewi
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB has confirmed the joining of Eastern Security Network, ESN, by five soldiers who allegedly retired from the Nigerian Army.
IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said that more soldiers from the South-East, particularly those in the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, in Maiduguri are currently being wooed to resign and join the ESN.
IPOB statement however disclosed that the five soldiers joined ESN, to ensure security in South East and some parts of South-South, but dismissed the insinuation in some quarters including some sections of media that ESN is being nurtured to become regional military force or IPOB private army.
However, IPOB statement was silent on the claim that some of the Nigerian soldiers who resigned to join ESN, did so on the grounds that the ESN is being funded by both international and local donors and has better welfare packages for its officers than the military.
IPOB statement read in part, “At least five soldiers of the Nigerian Army recently resigned to join Nnamdi Kanu’s Eastern Security Network, however, the military sources information that the ESN is silently building a regional military force, is unfounded.
However, the information from the military sources that more soldiers from the South-East, particularly those in the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, are currently being wooed to resign and join the ESN, is indisputable.
“ESN boys are not a bunch of rookies and untrained fellows brandishing guns. I personally know five soldiers from my hometown in Anambra State who left the Nigerian Army to join the ESN.
“Two of them were formerly serving in Operation Lafiya Dole, Borno state before they quit.”
According to IPOB, “We are being reliably informed that there are other soldiers, particularly of the South-East extraction, who will soon leave for other various reasons to join ESN, and they are likely to be recruited into the fold,”
“We do not blame Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, who recently announced the formation of the Eastern Security Network, as a regional force to protect the South-East and South South from banditry and attacks from killer herdsmen, we are fighting banditry here on daily basis, but our effort seem not to be recognized by government.”
However, IPOB in its statement, alleged that in July 2012, about 356 soldiers in the North-East and other theatres of operation resigned from the Nigerian Army.
It further alleged that some of the soldiers left on voluntary retirement, while others cited loss of interest as their reason for disengagement.
IPOB further alleged that its military source revealed that “The soldiers had written to the Army authorities on July 3, 2020, under Reference NA/COAS/001, quoting the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service Soldiers/Rating/Airmen (Revised) 2017.”
“The approval of the voluntary disengagement of the 356 soldiers was contained in a 17-page circular from Nigerian Army Headquarters, AHQ DOAA/G1/300/92, signed by a Brig Gen now a Maj. Gen, who was once the Commander of the Onitsha Military Cantonment.
“Again, this January, another batch of 127 soldiers resigned from the Nigerian Army and are due yo leave in May 2021.
“They comprised one Master Warrant Officer, three Warrant Officers, 22 Staff Sergeants, 29 Sergeants, 64 Corporals, seven Lance Corporals and one Private.”
IPOB alleged that, “Two weeks after its leader Mazi Kanu launched the ESN on December 12, 2020, the Nigerian Army on December 30 deployed combat helicopters, gun trucks and soldiers to search some suspected forests in the South-East states where the ESN, was said to be camping.”
“The military search had been ongoing for days, and had no time frame, as the Army was acting on “orders from above.”
“The Army in the deployed combat helicopter did not know that a video from the drones and hidden cameras, installed by the ESN, had captured the Army helicopters, their vehicles and soldiers searching for the camp of the ESN for possible arrests.”
IPOB alleged that fight against the insurgents in the North East had been very difficult for the Nigerian Army because it focused attention on searching for the camp of Eastern Security Network operatives instead fighting Boko Haram.
“The Nigerian Army forgot they are dealing with sophisticated men trained by IPOB, who operates cameras and drones everywhere watching them.
“They forgot that the police force had made similar attempt to identify ESN official or camp in the South-East, without success, instead got frustrated and resorted to dismissing ESN as propaganda and non-existent outfit.” IPOB said.