Claim: A Twitter user claimed operatives of the Nigerian Army were arresting male students of the Imo State University (IMSU) from their school and tagging them members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the process.
But how true is this?
Following reports of unrest in the South-East, there has been military intervention in the area which, rather than solve the problem, has continued to raise concerns in some quarters.
On May 18, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, launched a new special operational action plan code-named, Operation Restore Peace, to quell the problem of insecurity in the region.
The police said in a release that the IGP launched the special operation at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu as part of efforts targeted at returning “the South-Eastern region to its historical pride of place where its people are known to be peaceful, tolerant, innovative, industrious and entrepreneurial.”
It was also stated that “the special operation has become necessary to engender all-inclusive security actions to roll back the murderous attacks, violence, proliferation of weapons and other threats to law and order occasioned by the separatist agenda being heightened by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in the South-East region.”
Also, there have been confirmed reports of clampdowns on leaders of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network by the Nigerian Army and Police Force.
In a statement on April 24, the Nigerian Army confirmed its attack on IPOB’s operational headquarters.
The statement signed by the Army spokesman, Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, said the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Police and DSS team, along with troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, had been on the trail of the group since the attacks on the Imo State Police Command headquarters and the Owerri Correctional Centre on April 5.
It said the intelligence team later “tracked the IPOB/ESN top leader to his exact location in Awomama village where he (Ikonson) and the commanders were hibernating and plotting dastardly acts against the Nigerian state.
“On noticing the presence of the joint operations team, IPOB/ESN terrorists brought a heavy volume of fire on the raiding team who swiftly responded and overwhelmed them with superior firepower that neutralised Ikonson and six of his top Commanders.”
This has increased tension in the South-East region.
Screenshots of Jessica’s Twitter post and others by different Twitter users making reference to the said arrest of Imo State University students by military men were making the rounds, prompting SaharaReporters to verify this claim.
Another tweep @anthony_fedora also corroborated the claim.
She wrote, “They’ve started picking up IMSU students and tagging them IPOB members. Oraifite has been on fire since morning, everyone is mostly indoors.”
A Twitter user @DJJBATICS, however, debunked the claims, stating that the said area was never on fire. He said it was false information as he had just left the area some few minutes ago.
In our quest to verify the claims, SaharaReporters placed a call across to the institution’s Students Union Government President, Oguike Arinze Collins, who said there were no arrests made on Sunday.
According to him, the institution has no hostels but lodges called ‘alliance’. He stated that he had contacted the head of each alliance and had got confirmation that the students were not under any form of attack.
He said, “Let me categorically say that as of yesterday, there was no invasion by any security outfit concerning Imo State University students.
“Imo State University is a non-residential school; about 98% of the students live outside the school, there is nothing like male students. What we have are two female hostels located inside the school and there is no way a security outfit can enter there.
“I have been seeing the news online and noticed that Imo State University has been trending for a while on Twitter. All those things you are seeing are fake news, they are lies from the pit of hell. The only place I can confirm to you that there was an arrest is at third gate alliance.
“The areas where students stay are called alliances and they are divided into five to six alliances. We have the first gate alliance, Bishop’s court alliance, Ogwuratta alliance, Orji alliance, etc. The only place there was an arrest was at the first gate alliance and that was last Monday.
“Policemen arrested six students of the university and we were not told of their crimes. Our pleas to the police to make sure the students were released, was not granted. They were meant to be charged to court last Tuesday but due to the attack on Orji police station, the mobile court didn’t proceed and these students are still there.
“As I speak to you, they are still there for a crime that they know nothing about. Apart from this, there has not been any military invasion in any part of Imo State University.
“I stay at Okwuratta alliance and I can confirm to you that no student was arrested. I have been able to make contacts with the alliance heads of other locations, no student was picked up.
“I know as of yesterday (Sunday), people were running helter-skelter but because of the tension at this period, just a slight sound similar to a gunshot is making people frenzy, even if it is not a gunshot, even if it was just a fire cracker, people will start running.
“There was no military invasion anywhere around the school. We have to clamp down on any kind of fake news on social media, I have been seeing them, IMSU is trending on Twitter for this and it is very unfair. I am saying it now that students should try as much as possible to confirm any report before they give out information.”
Also, some other Twitter users had debunked the claims that male students were being rounded up and arrested in a bid to reduce the male population.
SaharaReporters’ findings show the alleged military invasion of male hostels on Sunday is false. There might have been arrests in other parts of the town but not within the university community.