The Nigerian army has denied assaulting Chiwetalu Agu, the Nollywood actor who donned a Biafra outfit.
In a viral video on Thursday, the film star appeared to have been confronted in Onitsha by soldiers for wearing an outfit themed after the separatist state.
Unverified accounts by locals in the south-eastern state of Anambra who witnessed the incident had claimed the army publicly manhandled Chiwetalu, searched his vehicle, and fired shots to scare off the crowd that gathered.
But in a statement signed by Onyema Nwachukwu, its press director, the army said he was only arrested and detained and not “brutalised”.
“Though he attempted putting up some resistance when troops made effort to take him into custody, he was not assaulted or subjected to brutalization,” the statement read in part.
“While the NA recognizes the inalienable rights of the citizenry to freedom of movement and expression, it is a violation for any individual or group to incite the public to cause mayhem or break down of law and order.
“It is, therefore, pertinent to state that while exercising such freedoms, it must be done within the confines of the law, bearing in mind the imperative for peace, and national security.”
On the basis under which it arrested the actor, the army said Chiwetalu “brazenly challenged the constitutionality” of Nigeria by wearing the well-known outfit associated with the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“Worrisome was the fact that considering the prevailing security situation of the region coupled with the ongoing Exercise Golden Dawn, his action could be a tacit endorsement and support for the proscribed group,” it added.
“We have all witnessed the activities of the group take a violent dimension in recent times.
“Chinwetalu Agu has clearly demonstrated an uncharitable disposition to negate peace and security in the region, hence, he is taken into custody for preliminary investigation.
“It is important to once again place on record that the allegation that he was brutalized is false and should be disregarded accordingly.”
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