March 29, 2023

Reps summon CDS, COAS over extra-judicial killings, assault on lawmaker in Benue

IDP camps

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

House of Representatives, yesterday, summoned the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor and the Chief of Army Staff, Farouk Yahaya over alleged extrajudicial killings and an assault on a member of the House, Hon. Kpam Sokpo, residents of Gboko and guests of Old Barn Hotel, Gboko by men of the 401 Special Forces Brigade of the Nigerian Army.

The top military brass is to brief House about actions currently taken by military authorities to investigate the unprovoked assault and the shooting to death of two persons in Gboko on 18 March 2023.

They will also explain the circumstances behind the “unprovoked attack and why these military officers did not carry proper identification or inform the civilians about their mission”.

Also to be explained to the lawmakers will be the “military’s rules of engagement during election monitoring and other engagements with the civilian population, especially considering the extrajudicial killing of two young men in Gboko by the same 401 Special Forces Brigade on 18th March 2023 for alleged ballot snatching”.

The resolution followed the consideration of a motion titled “Need to Investigate the Assault on Residents of Gboko and Guests of Old Barn Hotel, Gboko by Men of the 401 Special Forces Brigade of the Nigerian Army”, moved at the plenary by Hon. Mark Gbillah.

Presenting the motion, Gbillah expressed worry “about the unfortunate incidence of Saturday 18 March 2023 at Old Barn Hotel, Gboko in Benue State, where at about 2:30 am, men of the 401 Division of the Nigerian Army viciously assaulted and brutalized several persons and guests.”

He said: “These military men, numbering over 20 stormed the hotel in Nigerian Army trucks and dressed in military uniforms but without any identifiers such as nametags, any form of personal identity or ranks.

“The military men ordered all persons within view to move, gather in groups and squat on the ground without explanation such cruel and inhuman treatment.

“In the course of obeying the Army Officers’ commands, one of the soldiers accosted the Honourable and slapped him.

“Despite introducing himself as a serving member of the House of Representatives, the soldier rather poured more invectives on the Honourable and ordered his subordinates to slap him and in an attempt to defend himself from the unprovoked assault, about 20 soldiers pounced on him and others with guns and brutally assaulted them, this resulted in serious injuries on his head, face, shoulders, chest, back, both arms, and legs.

“This same team of soldiers were allegedly responsible for the extrajudicial killings of at least two (2) persons in Gboko in two (2) separate instances on the same day.”

Adopting the motions,  the House condemned the assault on Old Barn Hotel while urging the Chiefs of Defense and Army Staff to commence a comprehensive investigation of the incident (ensuring evidence is obtained from civilian witnesses) with the view to identifying the soldiers that were responsible for the mayhem.

It mandated its Committee on Army to ensure compliance with the resolution and report to the House within 2 weeks for further legislative action.