Alleges brutality, destruction of property
By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—ODIONWERE of Iguomon community in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State, Pa David Uwagboe, elders, youths and residents of the area have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call to order the Commander and men of the 4 Brigade of Nigerian Army in Benin, who they alleged had laid siege to their land, demolishing property, manhandling and inflicting severe injuries on some of their people.
In an open letter to the President, also copied to the Chief of Army Staff, National Security Adviser, the Commander, 4 Brigade Benin, National Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International, the community, through their counsel, Olayiwola Afolabi, accused the 4 Brigade Commander and his men of acting the script of a retired Army officer, who wants to change the customary procedure and tradition of the people to seize power through brute force by laying siege to their community.
Describing the action of the soldiers as a violation of their fundamental human rights, they also appealed to President Buhari to order an injury into the brutality and continued occupation of their land by the soldiers as well as the role being played by the retired military officer.
However, reacting to the alleged siege, Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 4 Brigade, Benin, Captain Jonah Unuakhalu, said that the Brigade was not aware of such an invasion or siege.
He said: “We are not aware of such situation and the Brigade Commander has not seen any petition to that effect. If he has the petition, we will investigate the allegation and do the necessary thing.
“The military cannot invade a community and lay siege to it. Our duty is to protect the people and not to destroy their lives and property. ”
On the details of the crisis in the area, the community said that sometime in 2013, a group of individuals led by one David Omoregieva and one retired Navy Commander (name wtthheld), stormed the community purportedly using their connections within the rank and file of the Nigerian Army in Benin and attempted to seize the existing leadership structure in the community which was accepted by all in the area.
The community leaders said similarly in October, 2015, another group of soldiers raided the area, tampered with their property and arrested some of its leaders that were opposed to their choice of leadership in the area, maltreated them and detained them at the 4 Brigade headquarters for seven days without any offence against them.
They alleged that the latest assault on the community by the soldiers was on December 18, 2015, when they stormed the area, demolishing a four-room building under construction in the pretext that the land belonged to the self-imposed elder of the community.