The Nigerian army has described the allegation of extortion against its personnel in Edo as a deliberate orchestration of falsehood and gross misrepresentation of facts produced and circulated to deliberately smear its image.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, in a statement on Monday, reacted to a video clip alleging that army personnel were collecting N1000 from luxury buses along Agbor-Benin road.
Yerima said it was also alleged in the said video that pandemonium ensued following an allegation that transporters refused to pay the illegal toll.
He said the analysis of the video and several confirmatory enquiries of the video revealed that it was a deliberate orchestration of falsehood and gross misrepresentation of facts.
According to him, while the Nigerian Army recognises the right of Nigerians to hold and share opinions especially on the social media, it should not be used to spread deliberate falsehood.
“A situation where deliberate misrepresentation of facts and fabrication of outright falsehood are being orchestrated in the social media to tarnish the image and reputation of the military is not and should not be acceptable,” he said.
Yerima said that the Nigerian army would remain a professional force that respects the fundamental human rights of the citizenry in line with global best practices.
He said that the army would neither condone a willful breach of law and order nor tolerate indiscipline on the part of its personnel.
Army spokesperson said that there was imposition of a state-wide curfew by the Edo government following the aftermath of the #End SARs protest, adding that the order had yet to be reviewed.
He said it was to the curfew that motorists usually park a few meters away from the checkpoint mounted by soldiers and await the opening of the road by 05:00hrs daily.
According to him, the issue of the road closure has been a long-time problem with nighttime commercial drivers who insisted that the road, being a federal road is not under the jurisdiction of the government of Edo.
“The isolated protest happened on Feb. 17 at about 2230hrs.
“This situation was brought under control professionally by troops who were conscious of the rules of engagement and code of conduct for internal security operations,” he stated.