There was a tense atmosphere in Abakpa in Nike area of Enugu state when two soldiers, one in uniform and another in mufti tried to torn the poster warning Fulani herdsmen against grazing in the area.
The soldier in the uniform was the one who tore down the poster and was shocked by what followed his action. The youths who are already fade up with the menace of the Fulani herdsmen, descended on him and beat him up. When his colleague tried to join the fight, he too got a good dose of the beating.
These soldiers left and called up for a backup, which arrived reportedly with three helux pickup trucks filled with soldiers. To their surprise, these soldiers met a great number of youths fully armed and ready to take the fight to the soldiers. The youths also mounted a total road block to check further vehicular movement as part of their security measures against the soldiers.
These scenes and others really register the dissatisfaction of the communities against the activities of the criminal Fulani herdsmen.
■ The military personnel also urinated on the widow and the family after beating them for several hours.
A Nigerian Navy officer, Victor Owonam, allegedly led nine military personnel to the residence of a widow, Mrs. Esther Bassey, and her family in Cross River State, brutalising and dehumanising them.
The military personnel also urinated on the widow and the family after beating them for several hours.
SaharaReporters learnt that the incident occurred on Sunday, in the afternoon when Owonam, a Seaman, and his sister, also a navy officer, stormed the widow’s residence and dragged her and her four children out of the apartment.
In a petition, the Country Director of a civil society, Citizens’ Solution Network, Richard Inoyo, stated that the Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade, and the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, should investigate the assault and bring the erring officers to justice.
But there was nothing stated in the petition as the reason why the navy personnel carried out the alleged assault on the family.
Narrating the incident further, Inoyo said, “On December 27, a naval officer, Victor Owonam, led his sister, also a naval woman, and eight military personnel to the residence of Mrs. Esther Bassey, an aged widow with three daughters and a son. They gave this helpless family the harshest and most violent humiliation of their lives, after cowardly beating and torturing the aged widow and her kids for hours.
“At 10pm the same day, unsatisfied with the first robust beatings given to the woman and her family, Owonam returned with his military colleagues to the apartment, pulled down the burglary of her house, dragged her and her kids out. Before they could get dressed, the military men clamped them into a vehicle belonging to Operation Akpakwu (a new Security outfit in Cross River State) and took them to Bogobiri and began to beat this family again.
“They humiliated them, urinated on them after severe beatings, continued till about 3am the next day in the dead of night before they were asked to leave in excruciating pains and humiliation. One wonders if we are in the 21st century or some barbaric 4th century where humans were treated like animals.
“Today, in solidarity with Mrs. Bassey, her kids, we and 39 other civil organisations are demanding justice for the family and calling on the Chief of Naval Staff to recall, arrest and try Owonam, his sister and the eight other military personnel who cowardly inflicted such high-level form of torture on the aged widow and her three daughters and son.”
The group also called on the governor to “stand up and ensure this case doesn’t get swept under the rug.”
“We equally call on the highest echelon of the Nigerian Navy to ensure due compensation and apology is handed to the family of Mrs. Esther Bassey besides the dismissal of all the indicted officers.
“A country where men in naval uniforms will abuse their privileges and mercilessly beat a defenceless widow sends a dangerous and disgraceful message to both the Nigerian Navy and international community, hence the need to offer justice to these victims of naval brutality, so as to serve as a deterrent to other erring uniform men,” Inoyo added. (SaharaReporters)
Some persons suspected to be Nigerian soldiers invaded the phase two communities in Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West local government area of Benue state and set many houses ablaze.
This was as Fulani herdsmen in the early hours of Thursday launched an attack on Agasha, a community near Governor Samuel Ortom’s district.
Chairman of the local government, Mr Francis Ayagah told journalists that the said soldiers stormed the area at about 11:00 am and began burning houses to the apprehension of residents.
Mr Ayagah could not immediately confirm casualty figures, if there were any said the ‘soldiers’ were on a reprisal attack over the killing of one of their colleagues near the community on Wednesday.
“A soldier was allegedly killed by hoodlums yesterday (Wednesday), but I met with the Brigade Commander around 4:30 am today” (yesterday) Mr Ayagah said, adding that over 300 houses were burnt.
“He gave me a list of suspects and we arrested five of them overnight. It was while we were trying to take them to the brigade that soldiers stormed the town and started burning houses”.
“A whole part of the town has been completely burnt down and we are appealing for help and understanding from the soldiers”, he said adding that homes of citizens were mostly affected rather than those of the suspected killers of the slain soldier.
Information Officer of the local government, Mr Francis Ugbede, told New Telegraph that a 65-year-old man who was sick and could not be carried when the soldiers invaded was burnt inside one of the buildings.
The operation lasted for over two hours within which more than 300 houses and property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
Naka is about 45 kilometres from Makurdi, the state capital. Gwer West was attacked a little over a week ago with over 25 people reportedly killed.
When contacted, the Assistant Director of Army Public Relations, officer, 707 Special Forces Battalion Makurdi, Major Olabisi Ayeni confirmed the incident.
Major Ayeni said at about 3:30 pm on “Wednesday troops of 707 Special Forces Brigade deployed at Naka in Gwer West local government area of Benue State observed the absence of PTE Danlami Gambo from duty post, the soldier’s rifle was however found at the location”.
“It was gathered that the soldier was last seen receiving a phone call but left in search of network and did not return. Troops immediately conducted patrols to search for the missing soldier. During the search at about 6:10 pm troops observed blood stains along with a footpath leading to a newly dug grave”.
“Troops immediately dug out the grave and the dead body of the missing soldier was found butchered”.
Major Ayeni said the corpse of the deceased soldier had been exhumed and deposited at the Nigerian Air Force morgue in Makurdi, adding that preliminary revealed that some locals were involved in the killing of the soldier which has led to the arrest of some suspects by a team dispatched from the unit to the scene of the incident.
He added that investigation was ongoing to unravel the circumstances that led to the death of the soldier and to also arrest all the culprits involved.
Meanwhile, the Tiv Youth Organisation (TYO) has condemned the massive destruction of property in Naka by men of the Nigerian Army.
President of the organisation, Mr Timothy Hembaor who spoke to New Telegraph in an interview wondered why the soldiers failed to go after Fulani herdsmen who murdered two soldiers in Tyulen and also claimed responsibility but preferred to visit mayhem on Tiv villages that had been deserted long ago and taken over by the Fulani insurgents.
“Fulani herdsmen had already chased the people in Naka and occupied the place. The action of the soldiers is condemnable”.
“What has happened has already given us the impression that this is what President Muhammadu Buhari had been looking for; if not Fulani had killed about two soldiers at Tyulen and they even admitted responsibility for the killing and there is no iota of hostility against Fulani herdsmen that are occupying Tyulen and other parts of Guma local government area where those soldiers were killed”.
“So why are they afraid to go after Fulani militia that killed their men and they are just burning and ransacking Tiv villages because a soldier was killed around the place without investigating to know exactly who is responsible for it”?
At least six people were yesterday killed by armed Fulani herdsmen at Agasha in Guma local government area of the state. Thousands of local inhabitants including women and children were yesterday seen leaving their homes in droves to areas considered safe to avoid being killed.
But the Brigade Commander of the 707 Special Force, Brig. Clement Apere, denied that soldiers attacked the people.
“The operation we conducted in the area was carried out in a professional way,” he said.
However, sources from Agatu, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone on Tuesday, explained that six villages — Olegadakolo, Ikpele, Otugologwu, Iwali, Okpanchenyi and Egba — were sacked by the soldiers.
At Egba community, sources said a pregnant woman was hit by a stray bullet, adding that the six villages had been deserted.
“This is genocide on our people, as I’m talking to you now, six villages have been sacked, children and women have moved out of the affected villages, while many people have been arrested by the invading soldiers,” a resident of one of the villages, who pleaded anonymity said.
The council’s sole administrator, Mr. Mike Inalegwu, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, also denied the killing of people in Agatu communities but admitted the invasion of military personnel.