Army nabs soldier training militants in Rivers

Lt.-Col. Timothy Opurum

Lt.-Col. Timothy Opurum

The Nigerian Army has arrested a soldier, who specialised in training Niger Delta militants in Kula Community, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The suspect was nabbed during arms and ammunition mop-up by the 2 Brigade Garrison of the Nigerian Army,in Port Harcourt.

Commanding Officer of the Base,Lt.-Col. Timothy Opurum,told journalists in PortHarcourt that the soldier, a member of 13-man -militant gang alleged to have been terrorising many communities in Rivers, left the army in 2002.

Opurum said, the troops raided the community on account of incessant cases of militancy, kidnapping, piracy, cultism and killings which has continued unabated in the area.

The commanding officer said that intelligence revealed that the community was not only serving as hideout for criminals but hoodlums were also storing caches of arms and ammunition in the area.

He said, “Based on intelligence reports, we carried out a sting operation where we captured 13 members militant gang including their notorious kingpin leader, simply known as Kenneth.

“We also arrested a soldier, who deserted the army in 2002 and specialised in training of militants in weapons handling and operational tactics.

“The soldier (names withheld), who is a Private, joined the army in 1998 and served in 331 Artillery Regiment Kalapanzi Barracks in Kaduna before he was declared missing in 2002.

Continuing He said,“The soldier, who is related to the kingpin of the militant group, is still in our custody and will be released to prosecuting agencies after formal dismissal from the army” .

He described the raid as “highly successful” saying, arms and ammunitions were recovered by troops during the operation.

He disclosed,“some of the arms and ammunitions had already been moved by the militants before our troops arrived at the community.

“Twelve suspects excluding the deserter-soldier, the arms and ammunitions had been handed over to the state Directorate of Security Services (DSS) for further investigation and prosecution,” he said.

Opurum, who led the operation, however, denied allegation that troops opened fire on innocent fishermen and traders, and destroyed their wares during its operation in the community.

He said, it is highly untrue that soldiers assaulted innocent civilians during the operation to mop up arms and criminality in Kula community.

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