‘Soldiers’ hold shoppers hostage in Umuahia

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UMUAHIA – dressed in military uniforms on Tuesday in Umuahia, the capital State, held shoppers at the popular Mall Housing Shoprite along Uwalaka Street, off Umuwaya road hostage for about an hour.

Though information about the incident was sketchy at the time filing the report, it was gathered that the supposed military officers, who came to the facility in a coloured Toyota SUV, barred shoppers from exiting and entering the shopping facility.

Some , who claimed to have witnessed the incident, said the manner the supposed military personnel carried out the operation caused fear among shoppers and staff the mall.

The shoppers were initially scared they were attacks by gunmen based on recent happenings in the state. It was later they learnt the military personnel reportedly held them hostage because they claimed their car was burgled and undisclosed amount of money stolen from it while shopping.

Sources said it took the intervention of some highly placed individuals to convince the soldiers, who had invited their colleagues that arrived in a patrol van, to leave the premises.

The uniformed were also alleged to have forced their way into the Close Circuit Television Camera Unit (CCTV) of the facility in an apparent move to find out those that broke their car glasses and reportedly made away with the cash.

“They could as have as well gone to the CCTV unit of the facility if they were trained soldiers to find out those that broke into their car, because the people allegedly collected their money may be in the facility targeting other victims.

“If they had done that, am sure they could have nabbed those that perpetrated the act. What if the people had angrily turned against the said soldiers? What if there was an emergency at the time of the said incident? Our personnel should know that they are here to protect Nigerian citizens and not to intimidate them,” said a expert.

Unconfirmed report said the of an lawmaker shopping in the facility was among those trapped in the melee.

But a close family denied the presence of the of the lawmaker when contacted.

Army spokesman, Capt. Iliya Dauda, was yet to reply to a text message the matter at the time of filing the report. (The Nation)