The Nigerian Army says that P. P. Johnson, a female lieutenant abducted by gunmen suspected to be members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the militant wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is yet to be rescued.
A military signal had on Thursday said security agents had rescued the female soldier, noting that the mastermind of the kidnap was also arrested.
“At about 2:20pm on Dec 29, 2022, security forces rescued Lt. PP Johnson who was abducted by gunmen and taken to a forest bordering Enugu State and Ihube in Okigwe Local Government Area Imo State on December 26, 2022,” the military signal had read.
“The mastermind of the kidnap has also been arrested by security forces while efforts are ongoing to arrest the others. The situation is still being monitored at the moment. Video attached.”
However, spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, said in a release on Friday obtained by SaharaReporters, that the female Lieutenant had not been rescued as earlier claimed.
He also accused the Indigenous People of Biafra of being behind the abduction.
The statement read, “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to some publications circulating in the social media insinuating the rescue of Lieutenant PP Johnson, a female officer who was abducted on Monday 26 December 2022 while visiting her grandmother in Aku-Okigwe in Imo state, shortly after completion of her Cadet training and subsequent commissioning as a Lieutenant into the Nigerian Army.
“A video footage of her abduction had emerged in the social media where her abductors claimed her abduction was in line with their fight for Biafra against the Nigerian State. It is instructive that the officer’s circumstance as a woman and a Nigerian citizen of South Eastern extraction did not dissuade her abductors from dehumanising her in their mindless attempt to commit atrocities under the guise of fighting for Biafra.
“This evidently is another pointer to the myriads of crimes being unleashed by IPOB/ ESN on Ndigbo, the very people they claim to be fighting for their emancipation. It should therefore be crystal clear to those who are still in doubt of the true status of these groups, that IPOB/ESN are terrorists, masquerading as freedom fighters and do not deserve the support of anyone particularly the good people of South East Nigeria.
“The NA wishes to state that the information making the rounds is unsubstantiated as the officer is yet to be released or rescued from her abductors. Likewise, the video footage being circulated and associated with the rescue claim is an old video of the arrest of a suspect earlier effected by troops.
“Much as we appreciate the concern and goodwill of the general public for her safe rescue, we also wish to note that the information on the rescue of the officer did not emanate from the NA.
“The Nigerian Army will leave no stone unturned in its effort to rescue the officer and bring the perpetrators to book. We appeal to the general public to provide credible and reliable information that could lead to her safe rescue and arrest of the perpetrators.”
A trending video had showed the female officer being tortured by the gunmen after she was abducted in her hometown. She was said to have travelled to her hometown for the Yuletide season.
“She was just conferred with the rank of Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army. She passed out on December 17 after being commissioned from the Direct Short Service Course,” a military source had said.
“She was kidnapped at her home in Ibube. She travelled home for the Yuletide celebration.”
In the clip obtained by SaharaReporters, one of the unknown gunmen was heard threatening to kill the officer for being a member of the Nigerian Army.
He also warned youths against joining the military and other security agencies.
The officer was stripped naked and her hands and legs were tied. She was seated on the ground in a bushy area.