By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
Following the prompt intervention by the General Officer, Commanding (GOC), I Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, the Military authorities at the 31 Field Artillery Brigade, Minna on Monday heeded to the GOC’s call to cease hostilities against the six villages where sixteen soldiers reportedly on a weapons mop up assignment were killed.
Hues and cries from the villagers have continued to trail last Thursday’s and Friday’s gun battle between Military personnel and natives at the Kpaidna, Legbe, Kopa, Lunku, Bambe and Dagma communities of Bosso area where some Military personnel under the special Task Force to route bandits and terrorist herdsmen, had late night shootout that left no fewer than sixteen people killed and dozens injured.
The surviving able bodied men and youths have since abandoned the six villages and neighboring areas as they were being hunted by the Military and other security agencies in the aftermath of the incident.
But following intervention by the GOC and pleas by mostly retired Army Generals in Niger State, the soldiers have been called to order even as both the villagers and the Military lick their wounds.
The Military Monday asked those who had fled their homes at the wake of the clash with Military personnel to return home as there are no plans to revenge the murder of eleven soldiers who were lost during last Thursday’s and Friday clash.
The General Officer Commanding, (GOC) 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade gave this assurance when he paid courtesy visit on Governor Sani Bello during his two days working visit for on-the-spot assessment of the troubled areas and to commensurate with families of deceased soldiers.
The GOC while allaying fears of the communities who have been calling for federal government’s intervention over indiscriminate arrest and detention of Gbagyi people in the aftermath of the clash, said the Army, though it recorded huge casualties, had acted well to save lives of many Nigerians who would have died if the weapons were not mopped up from the communities.
State Chairman of, Gbegnu Boknu Yakwo Association, Danjuma S. Paiko had in a statement blamed the whole crisis on the activities and excesses of some criminally minded Fulani herdsmen whose constant attacks made the Gwaris to arm themselves for defence.
The Gbagyi communities across Niger State are worried and saddened by the ugly development and concern over the manhunt, arrest and detention of their kit and kin. Many of them have since left their homes and gone into hiding while a good number of them have been declared missing even the Military is being suspected of having them in its custody.
While praying for the repose of the souls of all those who lost their lives in the unfortunate incidents of, 4th and 5th August and for God to grant their families the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, Paiko had called for investigation into the remote and immediate cause(s) of the clash promising to abide by recommendations of the investigations.
But the visiting GOC who was received on behalf of Governor Bello by his Deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso, had assured that normalcy had returned to the affected villages and that the Army was not in anyway taking up arms against the citizens but was playing its constitutional role of protecting the nation’s territorial integrity.
The visiting Army General advised the state government to deploy its information apparatus to make the Military’s stance known to the general public and in particular the villagers as there was no cause for alarm.
He appealed to the run away villagers to return to their homes assuring them of their safety and that of their property.
Major General Oyebade had expressed willingness of the military high command to cooperate with the Niger state government in resolving the issues and to work for the quick return of normalcy in the now fear stricken villages especially.
The GOC confirmed that 57 suspects were arrested by his men and that a large cache of weapons recovered from the bandits would soon be handed over to the state Police Command for further investigation and prosecution.
Responding, Governor Sani Bello commended the Army for sacrifices made to save the lives of Nigerians with the mop up of the weapons from the communities and appealed to Nigerlites to continue to be law abiding, peaceful and to report any suspicious persons or movements to appropriate security agencies.
Governor Bello who spoke through his Deputy, described the incidence as very unfortunate and stressed the need for joint operations by all security agencies so as to prevent the state from becoming a haven for criminals who have been making influx into the state for its ambience, stability.
Bosso: Return to your homes, Military urges villagers
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.