• APC to Army: spare innocent ones …. • 12 villages displaced in Akwa Ibom military exercise
As military personnel reportedly overran some communities in Benue State youths have taken to the streets in protest.
On Monday, operatives of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) set up to contain violent crimes in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, reportedly invaded several communities in Konshisha council area of Benue State.
A military source speaking anonymously justified the invasion, saying a soldier was missing in the area when operatives were deployed there to enforce peace between the Tiv and Igede communities constantly clashing over land.
It was claimed that the OPWS men fell into an ambush by local militia, resulting in the disappearance of the soldier.
Many residents were displaced as houses were razed.
Shangev Tiev youths staged a peaceful protest in Gboko, a Tiv heartland.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and his counterparts from Rivers, Sokoto and Nassarawa, in Gboko to inaugurate road projects and the upgraded Tor Tiv palace, were greeted with placards demanding justice in the invasion.
At press time houses were reportedly being burnt by military men said to be searching for the militia men who attacked soldiers.
A lawyer, Samson Luga, who hails from Shangev Tiev, urged the military authorities to call their men to order.
Governor Ortom has condemned the attack on military men, and appealed to communities not to use militias to settle their squabbles.
Ortom also promised that his administration would do everything lawful to ensure peace among the warring Tiv and Igede communities.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state also urged the military to exercise caution in their operation, and not attack the innocent while chasing the abductors of their missing man.
In a statement by its publicity secretary James Ornguga, the Bebue APC said,
“The party is worried that though the anger of the military is justifiable, the people killed in the operation and those whose property and farm produce have been wrecked MAY NOT NECESSARILY be the bandits and their conspirators but innocent inhabitants whose teeth have been set on edge for the offence of aliens who ate the sour grapes.”
In Akwa Ibom State, residents of 12 communities in Essien Udim local government area have been displaced due to the joint military operation which took place on Tuesday to flush out criminals from the area.
About nine communities have been seriously affected while three are partially affected by the security situation.
They include Ntak Ikot Akpan, Ukana Uwa, Ikot Udo Ekpat, Ikot Otu, Ikot Afangna, Nto Nsek, Ikot Abia, Ikot Ankan, Ikot Ukpong Etor, Ikot Ada Utor, Nsasak, and Ikot Akpan Essiet.
The displaced persons from those villages are camped at St Ann Cathedral, Ikot Ekpene, Civic Centre Atan, Ikot Okoro and St Brigid Parish, Urua Akpan.
The clearance operation by a combined team of the military and other security agencies took place at Ntak Ikot Akpan to flush out the miscreants who have been perpetrating havoc in the area.
Our correspondent reports that the military deployed operation both land and aerial onslaught on the hoodlums leading to the successful dislodgement of the criminals.
Essien Udim, the council area of the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio was under siege by hoodlums who attacked and killed security agents and carted away ammunition as well.
Chairman of Essien Udim, Mr. Anthony Luke said in a press release said reprieve has come to his people who had been subjected to extortion, intimidation, robbery, and general abuse of their fundamental human rights.
Credit: The Nation