By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
Despite assurances from Military high Command of no witchhunt nor reprisal attacks from the Military or any security outfit against the natives of Kpaidna of Beji in Bosso local government area of Niger State, where 12 service men and 18 natives were killed in an ugly confrontation at night, the six communities affected are still crying of witchhunt by the Military.
The villagers have alleged that the Military have refused to allow peace to be as they have not relented on manhunt against their kit and kins almost a month after the incidence and the subsequent directives by the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adeyemi Adeye for his men to sheath their weapons.
On the 4th and 5th of August, some service men who were members of a Joint Military Task Force on vigilance had swooped on Kpaidna village of Bosso local government area of Niger state several hours after midnight (about 1:30am) on a purported, ill fated mission to mop up weapons from the villagers, but the exercise ended up in a shootout which claimed the lives of some 12 Soldiers and 18 members of the natives.
The Gbagyi people under the umbrella body, the Gbegunu Boknu Yakwo have in reaction to the alleged continued onslaughts and harassment by the Military, declared seven days mourning for their kinsmen who died in the aftermath of the invasion of their communities.
During the week long sober period, which begun Tuesday, the umbrella body had declared prayers and supplication for God’s intervention to save them from what the body called “aggressors actions which are bent on annihilating the Gbagyi race for no cause”. During the week long period, the Gbagyis are to stay away from markets and business places to mourn their dead.
The Gbegnu Boknu Yakwo refuted continuous claim that the Gbagyi natives whose mainstay is farming were armed with dangerous weapons. “Our people are farmers and by all means and for no reasons do we have weapons in our possession not to mention weapons of mass destruction as claimed by those who are after us”.
Niger State Chairman of the apex Gbagyi Socio Cultural Association in Nigeria, Gbegnu Boknu Yakwo, Comrade Danjuma Steven Paiko in an interview, expressed fears over the continued tension in the affected communities as those who are after their lives were still lurking around the various Gbagyi villages to exterminate his kinsmen.
Comrade Paiko who particularly accused the Commanders of the Air Force Rapid Response Wing whose Base is located in Kaikunke area of Bosso in the state and the Nigerian Army Military Base in Minna, said the two Officers have refused to comply with the directives of both the GOC, 1 Division and the orders of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar on their personnel to maintain the peace.
The Chairman of the Gbagyi apex body accused the Airforce and the Army Commands in Niger State of using their offices to pursue vengeance and the uncivil agenda of ethnic cleansing against the Gbagyi ethnic nationalities who are predominantly farmers spread across the state and who are known nationwide as peace makers.
Comrade Paiko said his people were still living in the perpetual fear of a possible dusk attack adding that “we are not taking lightly the speculations that Soldiers are planning to effect further arrest of people suspected to have played significant role in the defeat of the combined Army and Air Force Personnel, “hence my people have not been sleeping with all their eyes closed”.
Comrade Paiko who also expressed reservations and doubts on the fairness and impartiality of the commission of inquiry set up by the state government to look into the clash between the Gbagyi farmers and the service men, noted that “we have been in great fear and apprehension over what the commission of inquiry would turn up with”.
For now according to him, “we are praying for God’s intervention to save our people from further attacks and possibly more deaths. We have embarked on seven days fasting and prayers, starting from Monday for God to intervene and save us from enemies who wants us all dead”.
Paiko wondered aloud “the Military claimed that our people took away their guns and Camera used during the invasion but they have already recovered some guns so what are they coming to do again. They arrested 57 people and later brought only 48 to Court; where are the rest? What has happened to remaining nine persons he asked?
The leader of the Gbagyi sociocultural body in Niger state called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Commander, Armed Forces of Nigeria to intervene and call the leadership of the Military involved to order and stop further acts of injustice, harassments, highhandedness and extra judicial killings against an otherwise peaceful and harmless law abiding people.
Bosso Attacks: Gbagyis cry over military stalking, declares 7 days of mourning
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.