The military stated that the event on Sunday was to stop members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) from carrying out their activities in Ihioma, Orlu Local Government Area, Imo State.
The Nigerian Army has responded to claims that certain soldiers opened fire on residents in the Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State, Southeast Nigeria, on Sunday, April 17. The soldiers allegedly killed innocent civilians.
According to the army's spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, the soldiers who opened fire were from the 34 Artillery Brigade, and their mission was to confront members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Orlu's Ihioma settlement.
He claimed the separatist agitators were caught during a routine patrol at Banana Junction, where they were "enforcing the illegal sit-at-home order on law-abiding individuals going about their legitimate business."
While he was silent on the number of citizens killed and injured during the firefight, Nwachukwu said, “one of the criminals (an IPOB member) was taken out, while others fled in disarray.”
In a follow-up operation, troops are patrolling the general region to track down the fleeing dissidents, he said.
According to many sources, four people were slain during the military's raid on Sunday, in what looks to be a severe breach of fundamental rights.
Many local government citizens also took to social media, mainly Twitter, to share graphic photographs and videos of the events in Orlu.
According to the military, "Having incurred casualties and essentially denied freedom of action by the troops, the irredentist organizations have resorted to cheap propaganda to whip up public attitudes by disseminating a doctored film on social media alleging troop collaboration in their mindless atrocities."
This isn't the first time soldiers have attacked Orlu and its environs with fatal results. Most IPOB agitators are thought to be housed in the local government, which is also regarded as the epicenter of the group's activity in Imo.
IPOB, a separatist organization that was declared a terrorist organization in 2018, is calling for the construction of an independent state of Biafra in Nigeria's Old Eastern Region, which includes the current Southeast and South-South areas.
IPOB members in the Southeast are staging a sit-in to demand the release of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is currently detained and charged in a Federal High Court in Abuja with treasonable felony, unlawful possession of arms, and illegal importation of broadcast equipment.