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Military witnesses cry at hearing on Niger massacre

By Wole Mosadomi

Minna—The two military officers who appeared before the Justice Mohammed Mohammed Commission of Inquiry investigating the recent clash between the military and some communities in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State could not hold back tears, while testifying in Minna, yesterday, on how their colleagues were murdered while on an official duty.

The witnesses were Commander, 31 Artillery Brigade, Minna, Major General Moshood Olanrewaju, and Lieutenant-Colonel John Chukwuemeka Obanefor, Commanding Officer, 313 Artillery Battalion.

While the video of the butchered bodies of the troops was playing, some people who were at the sitting hurriedly left the hall.

First to take the centre stage before the Commission of Inquiry was Major General Moshood Olanrewaju, who insisted that the operation was prompted by three different security meetings, based on credible intelligence reports that the communities were harbouring weapons and involved in series of criminal activities in the area.

He said: “We did not just embark on the operation. There was intelligence reports about the communities before we carried out the operation. So people should not believe that the operation was illegal.”

Disagreement over memo

General Jimoh had earlier identified the memo presented as exhibit, after which he also explained what led to the operation and then demanded for permission to show the video.

He had earlier warned of the nature of the images in the video and advised those who could not withstand it to leave the hall temporarily, which they did when he started playing the video. He then began to cry.

General Olanrewaju also told the Commission that two AK-47 rifles, magazines with 198 rounds of ammunition, megaphones, two cameras and a radio communication set were still missing.

During the cross examination, the Commission’s counsel read the memo from the police, which was contrary to the claim by the Military that it was a joint operation.

The memo stated that the operation was not a joint operation as claimed by the military, but that they (Police) were only at the scene of the operation after a distress call by the villagers that their communities were being invaded by armed robbers in military uniform.

Also Lt-Col Obanefor burst into tears, while narrating how they prepared for the operation under his directive.

Chairman of the Commi-ssion, Justice Mohammed, called on the counsel to the groups to cooperate with the Commission, especially by not giving room for unnecessary adjournment and cross examinations.

Recall that in the incident, 12 soldiers were killed and, consequently, 57 civilians were arrested, in August.


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