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Three dismissed soldiers confess to training over 4,000 ESN members

Three dismissed soldiers who aided the training of over 4000 members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) have narrated how the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, lured them to join the group, but failed to fulfill his promises.

Three dismissed soldiers who aided the training of over 4000 members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) have narrated how the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, lured them to join the group, but failed to fulfill his promises.

According to the trio who were recently arrested by operatives of the Force Intelligence Response Team (IRT), they were promised heavy monthly pay, an all-expense paid trip abroad for further military training, and the post of generals when the Biafra state is actualised.

The suspects, Linus Owalo, Godswill Steven and Chinasa Orji, were arrested after operatives acted on intelligence from some members of the ESN, who were arrested during a raid of the group’s hideouts in Imo, , Delta and the Capital Territory (FCT), .

The Daily Times on Saturday gathered that the suspects trained 4000 men at an IPOB camp in Abia State, while another 400 were trained at a camp in Asaba.

Recall that the ESN, known as the armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has been accused of attacking and killing security operatives, as well as burning of police stations across the South East and South South regions of the country.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Owalo enlisted into the Army in the year 2013 and was attached to 102 Guard Brigade Battalion, but was dismissed in 2019, while Orji and Steven, enlisted into the Nigeria Army in 2015 and 2017, respectively and were trained at the 133 Special Force Battalion, but dismissed in 2020.

The suspects had after their dismissal, joined the IPOB militia and gave them trainings on combat operations, ambush and use of fire arms.

Speaking on his role in the group, 32-year-old Owalo said that he and the other suspects pulled out of the group on realising that the IPOB leader could not fulfil his promises.

The father of two and a native of Layal Local Area of Cross Rivers State, said: “I was enlisted into the Nigeria Army, in 2013. I was posted to the Guards Brigade Headquarters, FCT Abuja, but in the year 2019, I was absent on duty and the army authorities arrested me.

I was charged and subsequently dismissed from the service. Since then I have been seeking for reinstatement and life have not been easy for my family.

“There was this man I approached for a job and he linked me to one Mr. Williams, who he said could help me get a job. Mr. Williams told me about Biafra and their dream to achieve a sovereign state.

He invited me to their meeting and when I attended I was welcomed warmly and I was given a half bag of garri, five tubers of yam and they also a paid a visit to my wife and children.

I then told them that I was making plans to get my reinstatement into the Nigeria Army and they told me that I should forget about it that their Supreme leader, Nnamdi Kanu, will make life better for me, if I train the IPOB militia known as ESN.

“They also told me that I will be taken abroad after I have trained the militia for me to gain more military training and when Biafra is actualized that I will become a general in the Biafra Army.

I took an oath, swearing my allegiance to Nnamdi Kanu and I also vowed that I will die if betray the Biafra struggle and I was given the sum of N100,000.

I was then moved to a forest in Abia State, where over 4000 men who wanted to be trained were camped.

This was in October 2020 and I also met some other dismissed soldiers of the Nigeria Army who were there to train the men.

“We commenced training the moment I arrived and we started with push-ups, moral training, then we moved to fire movement known as field craft.

There was no board and pen in the forest for us to write on but we trained them the way we could.

The people managing the camp refused to trust us and they don’t involve us in their meetings.

Three months into the training, they sent us to a camp in Delta State, we met a man known as Be-In-Spirit and he took us to the camp.

“They told us that when we get to Delta that they will take care of us very well and when we got there we discovered that camp had been shut down.

I couldn’t talk to Nnamdi Kanu. I was just talking to his boys. I was used and brainwashed by IPOB.

Since I have been arrested, I would make sure that IPOB must be swept out,” he lamented.

While also making confessional statement, Steven, aged 33, a native of Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, said: “ I joined the Nigeria Army in June 2017, and I was attached to the Special Force and I got my four months training in Katogora.

I also went to Kaba Kogi State for another three months training, before I was sent to Takum Traba State for three more months training.

At the completion of my training, I was sent to 133 Battalion, where I sustained injury.

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“I was posted to in 2018 and I fought at Garuda in Maiduguri.

I survived the battle even with my injuries and I wanted to treat myself but the army authorities refused to allow me go for treatment.

When the pain became too much, I left to treat myself and when I returned, I was arrested and locked up in a cell where I meet Chinasa Orji.

We became friends and while in the cell he told me that one of his friends called him from Senegal and informed him that Nnamdi Kanu was recruiting trained soldiers to train IPOB militia.

“He said Nnamdi Kanu was ready to pay them twice the money they are earning as soldiers. He also told me that Nnamdi Kanu would also take the soldiers abroad and when Biafra is achieved he will make them generals in the Biafra.

I accepted the offer and they paid us N100,000 each which was twice the salary I was receiving from the Nigeria Army. We then traveled to Abia State where we took oaths to be loyal to Nnamdi Kanu.

“We were also taken into the camp where we gave volunteered militias trainings on combat and special forces maneuvering.

After spending one month in their Abia State Camp, we were transferred to another Camp, where I spent three weeks training the militia I met there. I left the camp when it became clear that the promise they made to take us abroad for training wasn’t realistic.

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