Umuahia — The Council of Ohafia Monarchs has asked soldiers at the 14 Brigade, Army Headquarters, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Barracks, Ohafia to stop harassing and intimidating law-abiding youths in the kingdom.
However, the Nigerian Army has denied the allegation, insisting that its troops carried out routine clearance operations in line with the rules of engagement and respect for fundamental human rights of the citizens aimed at restoring socio-economic activities.
Ohafia monarchs made the call at the end of an emergency security meeting held on Wednesday at the Udumze Palace.
They said the call became important because of the need to address the alleged siege the army laid on the kingdom, after a recent gun battle with some unknown gunmen.
At the end of the meeting, a communique was signed by the five royal fathers of the Ancient Ohafia Kingdom stating their positions on the matter.
Those who signed the communique includes: HRM. Prof. Emmanuel Lekwa Imaga, Udumeze Ohafia/(Ezieogo Elu), HRM. kalu Kalu Onugu (Ezieogo Asaga), HRM. Mba Odo Okereke (Ezieogo Akanu), HRM. Awa Nwankwo (Ezieogo Amaekpu) and HRM. Mmecha Ugbu Mmecha (Ezieogo Amangwu).
The monarchs, who said they appreciated the presence, services and comradeship of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies in Ohafia, advised the Commander in charge of 14 Brigade Ohafia to device means of arresting criminals rather than stigmatising all youths and residents of the kingdom.
"The continuous lockdown of commercial and social activities in Ohafia Community has completely paralysed economic activities and wellbeing of Ndi Ohafia," they said.
The monarchs also lamented that the siege the Army laid at Amangwu-Ohafia has turned the people of the area into internally displaced persons (IDPs)in their land.
However, the Army accused the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) of being responsible for the trouble in Ohafia.
The Directorate of Army Public Relations said troops of the Nigerian Army are working in conjunction with personnel of Nigeria Police and other security agencies, leveraging on timely and accurate intelligence provided by patriotic citizens to restore normalcy to troubled areas and to rid the state of criminal elements.
"Consequently, we wish to reassure the good people of Abia State of the safety of their lives and property and also urge them to continue to report suspicious movements and activities of strange individuals or groups in their vicinity to the nearest security agency for prompt action," it said.