We were there to flush out militants, kidnappers—Army
By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—NO fewer than 15 houses were, yesterday, destroyed while residents fled for their lives, when uniformed men said to be operatives of Operation Crocodile Smile II, operating in the Niger Delta, stormed Ajakurama, an Ijaw community in Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo State, allegedly in search of kidnappers and other criminals.
Vanguard learned that the uniformed men invaded the community at about 8a.m., Monday, in nine gunboats and speed boats, ransacking the community and searching houses allegedly accommodating suspects.
However, some residents accused an ex-militant leader, known as Peres, of inviting the uniformed men with a view to using them to settle scores with perceived enemies.
However, reacting swiftly, Peres debunked the allegation, insisting that his own house was equally destroyed, noting that the uniformed men might have invaded the community based on security report, which he knew nothing about.
According to him, “I did not invite any soldier to the community. They should ask the Federal Government not me. But I am aware that soldiers operating under the Operation Crocodile Smile II have been invading communities and that is not my business.
“I petitioned the Inspector General of Police on those I have issues with in the community. He has asked the AIG Zone 5, Benin, to investigate the matter. The AIG has invited those involved in the matter. So people should leave me alone.”
Army confirms raid
Reacting to the invasion, Army Public Relations Officer, 4 Brigade Command, Benin, Captain Muhammed Maidawa, confirmed the raid, saying the Army got security report that the community was being used as a hideout for militants and kidnappers.
He said: “Our men went there to carry out special operation in the community based on credible information to clear out the militant camp in the area.
“We received information that the place is being used by militants and kidnappers, so our men went to flush them out.”