No one should be spared from facing justice in the alleged killings of nine soldiers, including a captain. We also maintain that the reported killings of unarmed civilians in Konshisha communities who were buried at an undisclosed mass grave by soldiers should equally be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators brought to book. We cannot continue to treat ourselves as animals as if lives do not matter to us in this country.
On Monday, it was an outpouring of emotions at the military cemetery in Makurdi when the military buried nine personnel allegedly murdered by a militia group named Bonta Boys in Konshisha, Benue State. Days before then, 72 Special Forces Battalion had deployed troops to a flashpoint where Oju and Konshisha communities were engaged in communal clashes over land disputes. The troops were subsequently ambushed and were made to pay the ultimate sacrifice where they went to restore order according to the Defence Headquarters narrative.
Before now, there were some reports alleging that several persons were being killed and buried by soldiers in Konshisha at an unknown mass grave. Though this report has not been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
Clarifying the issue, the Defence Headquarters issued a statement through the Acting Director of Defence Information, Onyema Nwachukwu, last Friday. According to the military, “the numerous publications in the media and other online blogs reporting massive killing and destruction of houses and other property by the military in Konshisha LGA of Benue State” are false and untrue.
It went on to explain that, “There have been incessant cases of communal clashes in recent times between the people of Konshisha and Oju over boundary demarcation”; however, peace efforts brokered by the Benue State government broke down and reportedly led to a renewed fracas. The 72 Special Forces Battalion, therefore, deployed troops “on the Oju side of the boundary and troops of the Battalion were on their way to replenish their colleagues on 5 April 2021, when they were attacked by armed bandits at Bonta in Konshisha.
“The troops who were under command of a Captain were seized at a checkpoint mounted by the so-called ‘Bonta Boys’ and taken into Konshisha forest where they were all brutally murdered. Not satisfied with killing the soldiers, the bandits proceeded to burn all the eleven soldiers and their officers beyond recognition while their weapons and ammunition were carted away. Military reinforcements were dispatched to Bonta the following morning. Unfortunately, the reinforcement also came under attack from close to 500 armed youths who by this time had fully occupied Bonta”, the statement stated.
We condemn in absolute terms the barbaric killing of our soldiers who are trained and paid to protect and defend the country and its citizens and demand full-scale investigations into the matter and ensure that all those involved are apprehended and duly prosecuted according to law. It is sickening and evil.
No one should be spared from facing justice in the alleged killings of nine soldiers, including a captain. We also maintain that the reported killings of unarmed civilians in Konshisha communities who were buried at an undisclosed mass grave by soldiers should equally be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators brought to book. We cannot continue to treat ourselves as animals as if lives do not matter to us in this country. No.
It should be underscored that just like other citizens, our soldiers are not enemies of the citizens, even if there are some bad eggs among them. They are fathers, mothers, our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and citizens of this country, and they are also entitled to enjoy all the fundamental human rights, including the right to life. The same goes for all security forces in the country. Both civilians and the military need to work together if we must overcome our myriads of national security challenges.
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