By Chancel Sunday
BOMADI — The people of Kpakiama community in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State have cried out over incessant harassment and brutalisation of residents by men of the military Joint Task Force, JTF, Bomadi Division, in the wake of the killing of a Police Corporal in the area.
A Police checkpoint on the outskirts of the community had been attacked by gunmen, killing Corporal Victor Ogbaje, carting away his rifle, with another officer sustaining injuries.
However, in a swift reaction, JTF Commander, Bomadi Division, told Vanguard on phone that his men cannot be accused of harassing people anywhere, as they know their duties, adding that Senator James Manager called him on same issue.
‘The killers are not from here’
Narrating their ordeal, a resident of the community who spoke on condition of anonymity, said soldiers started the harassment on the day of incident at 8p.m., invading commando style, harassing and beating up youths.
He said: “Since that incident, we have been living in fear. They come commando style, causing panic with traders closing their businesses in a hurry.
“The hoodlums, who attacked the checkpoint, are not from here. They came, did what they did and left, leaving us to suffer in the hands of JTF men.”
Another indigene of the community, who gave his name as Timi, said: “On Sunday night, the soldiers invaded a cinema hall at Kpakiama Junction, beating up people, causing a stampede.
“Some of us sustained serious injuries in the course of running for our lives. A young man in particular, hit his face against an iron in a near-death escape, while others sustained various degrees of injuries.
“This is harvest period because the coastal flood has submerged our farmlands. So we over-labour ourselves till late in the night.
“Again, our old parents are now scared of going out to buy drugs for themselves after the day’s job.
“We appeal to the JTF Command to caution their men because we are law-abiding citizens.”
We know our duties —JTF Commander
Contacted on phone, JTF Commander, Bomadi Division, said: “You cannot just call me to say my men are harassing people. We know our duty.
“Senator James Manager has also called me on this issue. He asked me same question and I said we do not harass anybody.
“No matter who informed you of this, we know our duty here. My duties are to curb illegal oil bunkering, safeguard oil facilities and instillation, guard law-abiding citizens and any other thing that is related to security.
“I carry out any patrol along any route, I don’t think my soldiers are harassing anybody.
“We don’t grant press briefing and you don’t need to mention my name. If you want any interview, go to my Commanding Officer at Agbarhor.”