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Apprehension as soldiers take over 30 States

By Karls Tsokar, Joseph Wantu and John Ogiji |   07 August 2016   |   5:09 am  

 

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In a bid to curb insecurity in the country, the high command of the military has deployed troops to 30 states of the federation, a development that has however, led to apprehension in some communities.

For instance, not less than 1,000 men of the Nigerian Army and the Police, allegedly invaded Gbishe, a renowned farming settlement, in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State, in the early hours of yesterday, reducing over 1,000 homes to rubbles.

The Guardian sources from the community revealed that the soldiers, were deployed to comb the area, to arrest a former amnesty leader in the state, Terwase Akwaza alias ‘Ghana’, who has been declared wanted by the police for killing Governor Ortom’s Senior Special Assistant on Security, Denen Igbana.

Also on Thursday, a bloody clash between the Military and Kpaidna community in Bosso local government of Niger State, allegedly led to the death of nine soldiers and seven civilians, leaving hundred of other civilians wounded.

Likewise, four Hilux Pick-up vans belonging to the Nigerian Army were reportedly burnt, while two were damaged in the clash that occurred at about 2am, when the soldiers invaded the community in what the Army called “cordon search operation” for arms, said to have been stock-piled by the community.

Recall that a report circulated by a strategic Intelligence analysis firm, SBM Intelligence, said 30 out of the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory were flooded with troops deployed to strategic locations, where there are reports of insecurity, ranging from kidnapping, murder, armed banditry, communal clashes, theft and other such criminalities that threaten the peace and tranquility of the nation, with the potential to escalate to the point of national concern.

Though the Spokesman of the Army Colonel Sani Usman has not responded to inquiries made to him regarding the deployment, and the killings in Niger State, sources told The Guardian that the deployment is a presidential order, given to the leadership of the Armed Forces and other security agencies in the country, to the effect that the threats posed by the various security concerns in different parts of the country require proactive response if they are to be curtailed.

“The directive is that we should nip every such threat in the bud, especially those with the potential to escalate to become a national embarrassment, like the Boko Haram experience has become. If it were decisively nipped in the bud, we would not have been where we are today,” a source said.

Now, the presence of the soldiers has created palpable fear in some parts of the country, as soldiers were seen disembarking from Trucks in their numbers and taking up strategic positions, without a formal warning to the inhabitants.

Yesterday morning in Katsina Ala area, more than 15 trucks, load of Soldiers were seen coming down, taking up positions, disrupting social gatherings and business activities, as people scurried away for safety.

According to an eye witness, Terkaa Saasongu, who spoke to The Guardian on Telephone, the presence of the Soldiers in their community unannounced reminds them of the Zaki Biam massacre of 2001, where Soldiers rounded up and killed villagers in their thousands unprovoked, under the pretext that their colleagues where also killed by some youths in the community.

“What is happening in Gbishe community now seem like an imminent invasion of our community by military men, they came in at about 5:00am this yesterday morning in about 15 trucks.

They have blocked the Katsina-Ala-Takum road, which serves as the entrance point into Taraba State from Benue. Our fear is that the Zaki BIam incidence is still fresh in our minds”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Niger State government has set up a three Man committee to investigate the clash. The state commissioner of information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Jonathan Tsado Vatsa, while briefing newsmen after the emergency Security Council meeting said government has directed an extensive investigation into the remote and immediate cause(s) of the unfortunate incident.

The military invasion of communities across the country, has however, not gone down well with traditional rulers in the South-South zone, who have called on the Federal Government to withdraw troops from the Niger Delta region.

The President of the South-South Chiefs and Council of Elders (SSCE), Dr Abdulwahab Udosen, in an interview in Abuja, said the Federal Government should not adopt forceful measures against the Niger Delta militants in a bid to quell the violent attacks on oil and gas installations in the area.

Udosen said that the South-South region was not a war zone, noting that the people also love peace but that the situation in the area led to some challenges that warranted the soldiers.

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