By Peter Duru
Makurdi – The Benue state leadership of Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, Haruna Ibi, Tuesday alleged that two of their members were killed and burnt by soldiers at the Adeke area of Makurdi town after a gun battle.
However, leader of the joint military patrol team of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’, OPWS, Flight Lieutenant, Abubakar Mohammed whose team patrolled the Adeke surrounding area where the incident supposedly happened, acknowledged the exchange of gun battle with the herders in the area but denied knowledge of the killing or burning of corpses.
Flight Lieutenant Mohammed said, “I led my team on patrol of the area today (Wednesday) and in the course of our routine patrol, we came across herders with over 500 cattle and as soon as they sighted us, they opened fire on us. So my troops defended themselves after which we withdrew from the axis.”
Corroborating the troop patrol leader, the Force Commander of OPWS, Major General, Adeyemi Yekini, lamented that his men had repeatedly encountered herdsmen in the state who usually opened fire on the troops.
General Yekini said, “this is the kind of encounter we face everyday whereby herders open fire on our troops. When they (herders) kill us, nobody sympathises with us and nobody cares to hear our side of the story.”
Meanwhile the Chairman of MACBAN who was in company of his officials claimed that the bodies of the victims had been recovered from the scene of the incident.
He said, “we have already prepared the remains of the deceased for burial after we alerted the Police of the development.”
On his part the Ardo of Otukpo, Risku Mohammed explained that the deceased were members of his branch stressing that they were with their cattle at about 12noon when they ran into the soldiers.