By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Nigerian Army (NA) has dismissed as misleading, reports in a section of the media that soldiers invaded the Enugu residence of a retired army officer and evicted his family.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement on Thursday, said the story was deliberately skewed to tarnish the image and reputation of the Nigerian army.
According to Nwachukwu, it is expedient to set the record straight and clear grey areas on the ejection of the retired senior officer.
He said House 7 on Abakaliki Lane was among Federal Government houses accommodating Nigerian army officers in Enugu for over two decades.
He said that the house was allocated to retired Col. EL Ugwoke, then a Major, as his official residence when he was posted as the Deputy Commander 82 Division Intelligence Group in 2007.
Nwachukwu explained that that the officer continued to occupy the house even after he was posted out of the division.
He added that it was later discovered that he attempted to dubiously appropriate the house to himself, using some officials of Enugu State Government.
Nwachukwu said that in 2020, a committee was instituted by then General Officer Commanding (GOC) to ascertain the status of the property.
He said that the property was discovered to be among the houses handed over to 82 Division by past administrators to ameliorate the accommodation challenges of the Division.
“That the said property was not among 26 residential quarters officially handed over to the Enugu State Government in 2015.
“That there are no documents to confirm that the said property was sold or paid for by anyone.
“It is worthy of note that officers of the army occupying institutionalised houses are expected to vacate such accommodation while on posting or retirement.
“However, the retired senior officer failed to comply knowing fully the rippling effects on accommodation status of others posted in, and serving officers,” he said.
The Army spokesman also said the alleged brutalisation of the retired officer’s wife and children in the said publication was outright falsehood aimed at whipping up undue sentiments.
He said the Nigerian army was a disciplined institution with utmost regard for family institution and the vulnerable, particularly women and children.
According to him, the ejection process was audio and visually documented, as it was envisaged that such allegation could arise.
“Emphatically, neither the wife nor children were brutalised and no property was damaged in the process of eviction.
“The retired senior officer’s belongings were simply transfered from the house in question to his personal house at number 127 Park Avenue, GRA Enugu to pave way for other serving officers to be accommodated.
“This was after serving the retired officer three previous official notices and several appeals for him to vacate the property after his retirement in 2021.
“The general public is advised to disregard this misleading publication as it is devoid of the actual facts of what transpired.
“The Nigerian army will not relent in catering for the wellbeing and welfare of its serving and retired personnel within the ambits of legitimacy,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed