Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The Nigerian Army has risen in defense of her personnel over the allegation that they brutalised and maltreated, Col. Emeka Ugwuoke (Retd.) over a property situated at No 7 GRA Enugu.
It would be recalled that the news was rife on Wednesday in both the social and mainstream media about the ejection of the retired colonel from his house.
However, in a reaction, General Onyema Nwachukwu, Director Army Public Relations, the force explained that the said property belonged to it.
The army accused the officer of trying to manipulate the property through dubious means.
He said: “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to a misleading publication in some mainstream and online media insinuating that soldiers invaded the Enugu residence of a retired Army officer and evicted his family.
“It was further alleged that soldiers assaulted his wife and children in the eviction process. This story is not only misleading but aimed at tarnishing the image and reputation of the Nigerian Army.
“Much as the NA would have refrained from responding, it is however expedient to set the record straight and clear grey areas on the ejection of the retired senior officer.
“House 7 on Abakaliki Lane is among Federal Government houses accommodating Nigerian Army officers in Enugu for over 2 decades.
“The house was allocated to Colonel Ugwoke (Rtd.) then Major EL Ugwoke as his official residence, when he was posted to 82 Division Military Intelligence Brigade, then Intelligence Group as the Deputy Commander 82 Division Intelligence Group in 2007.
“The officer continued to occupy the house even after he was posted out of the division, sequel to his plea that his family be allowed to remain in Enugu for convenience, rather than moving them from place to place.
“It was however later discovered that the retired senior officer dubiously used the official letter head of his office on three different occasions to solicit the monetisation of the house through some officials of the Enugu State Government.”
The Army said further that in 2020, it observed that the retired senior officer was attempting to wrongly appropriate to himself, the official quarters (House 7 on Abakaliki Lane) which was still the property of 82 Division Nigerian Army through the State Government and “a committee was instituted by then General Officer Commanding (GOC) to ascertain the status of the said property and the committee made the following findings;”
“That House 7 on Abakaliki Lane GRA Enugu situated on plot R/30B old GRA Enugu is among the Federal Government properties occupied by the Enugu State Government and other Federal Government Parastatals and Agencies after the civil war.
“This fact is corroborated by the search on the property from the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development which confirmed that there was no record of ownership of the property in its archive.
“House 7 on Abakaliki lane GRA Enugu State was among the houses handed over to 82 Division by past administrator 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.”
According to Nigerian Army: “It is worthy of note that officers of the NA occupying institutionalised houses are expected to vacate such accommodation while on posting or retirement.
“However, the retired senior officer failed to comply knowing fully of the rippling effects on accommodation status of other posted in and serving officers.
“In the misleading publication, it was alleged that the retired senior officer’s wife and children were brutalised, which is outright falsehood aimed at whipping up undue sentiments. It must be stated unambiguously that the Nigerian Army is a disciplined institution with utmost regard for the family institution and the vulnerable, particularly women and children.
“The scenario painted by the writer is therefore a facade and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
“The ejection process was audio 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 transferred 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 appeal for him to vacate the property after his retirement in 2021.”
The statement advised the general public 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 well-being and welfare of its serving and retired personnel within the ambit of legitimacy.”