Nigeria: Soldiers Kill Student While Rescuing Herdsmen

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Nigeria: Soldiers Kill Student While Rescuing Herdsmen

A stray bullet fired by soldiers attached to the 707 Special Forces brigade in Makurdi Benue State has reportedly killed a secondary school student. The student’s name was Ayew Atume.

According to reports, the young boy was hit by the stray bullet while having lunch in his father’s compound.

Following the number of killings by Fulani herdsmen in the region, a vigilance group had been formed to monitor movements to forestall a re-occurrence. The group was said to have intercepted a vehicle carrying some armed herdsmen, acting on a tip-off.

According to reports from residents, the vehicle was detained when the arms were found. The detained men however contacted the soldiers who allegedly speedily arrived and freed the detained herdsmen. The soldiers were said to have shot sporadically in the air to scare the people away. It was on of these bullets that killed the boy.

According to report from a resident, he said “Youths keeping vigilance on the town acted on a tip-off  and intercepted a vehicle conveying some suspected herdsmen who were in possession of arms. The suspects called soldiers in Kashimbila who then called their colleagues stationed in Jato Aka to rescue the men.

“The soldiers arrived at the scene and whisked the car and the occupants to their base. The continued insistence of the youth for the vehicle to be handed over to the police angered the soldiers who started shooting indiscriminately into the air to frighten them.

“Ayew (Atume) was killed by a stray bullet. The boy just returned from school and was taking his lunch in his parents’ compound near the scene of the incident when the bullet hit him. He died instantly.”

The community is now said to be accusing the Army of colluding with the herdsmen to destroy their community.

Speaking on the situation, Maj. Olabisi Ayeni, Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 707 Special Forces Brigade, Makurdi said it was all a lie and he gave his version of what happened.

According to Maj. Ayeni “Youths in the town mounted an illegal roadblock, especially along the road linking Jato Aka to Taraba State, arresting innocent road users coming into Benue State.

“They detained some visitors, alleging they were Fulani herdsmen. Our soldiers got a distress call and moved there immediately. They were able to rescue seven people and they were moved to our base to ensure their safety.

“At the time of the arrest, they were searched and their vehicles were also searched, but nothing incriminating was found. The police were immediately contacted for further investigation if actually they were coming in with arms.

“While this was going on, the youth regrouped in their hundreds and surrounded the military base, demanding that the seven commuters be handed over to them.

“On the refusal of our troops to hand them over, they became aggressive and started throwing stones into our base. They later started firing at the camp. They destroyed our operational vehicles.

“They also killed a boy in the process. Furthermore, they attacked some traditional chiefs and the Sole Administrator of Kwande LGA who came to appeal to them.

“Our troops rescued the chiefs, but one of them was injured. Therefore, the claim that our troops are protecting Fulani herdsmen is not true. The illegally arrested commuters by the youths are not Fulani people; they are innocent Nigerians going about their business peacefully.

“The Nigerian Army has the constitutional responsibility to ensure the safety of all Nigerians. Inasmuch as we share the pains of those youths, we won’t allow any Nigerian to be unjustly punished or allow their fundamental rights to be tampered with.”

Source: Punchng

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Godwin Nweke
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