Benue residents raise alarm over alleged military attack on civilians

THERE is a growing tension in Konshisha Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State, following an alleged military attack on  civilians in Gungul and Shangev Tiev communities.

The incidents showing arsons were shared, Thursday, on the social media by individuals believed to be of Benue origin or affiliations.

In one of the posts, one Duke of Benue identified as @CollinsUma claimed the supposed military invasion had been on for three days.

He alleged the attacks were carried out against ‘unarmed civilians’ and further questioned on whose authority the military attacked.

Some of the communities identified included: Gbinde, Bonta, and Tse Amile. The online sources said that affected residents had been displaced and had to escape to the bush.

“Shangev Tiev is burning. For over three days now, there has been nonstop military offensive against unarmed civilians…” the tweet read in part.

“Benue state is filled up with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, now they want to create more….they did this with gunfire from a helicopter flying low, supporting soldiers on ground,” he claimed.

Aside from him, another user @SendeKamo, in a post, recalled how his grandfather’s house was reportedly attacked and left in ruins.

“Twenty years later, the Army is burning down my mother’s home,” he tweeted.

The incidents had, however, generated concerns on the social media with several unverified claims.

The ICIR reached out to the concerned individuals to verify their assertions, but they were yet to respond as of the time of  filing this report.

An independent verification conducted by this online newspaper showed that one of the photographs used in the picture collage was not recent. It was used to complement a story of a fire incident in December 2019.

However, other photographs were unique pictures.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Benue State Anene Catherine said she was unaware of the incidents.

“I have not received any report from that area, sir,” she responded in a phone interview with The ICIR.

The spokesman of the Nigerian Army Mohammed Yerima did not respond to calls from the reporter. He later replied a text message, with a promise to issue a press statement on the incident.

    The Nigerian Army has always been accused of extrajudicial activities in the country.

    In October 2001, the Human Rights Watch accused the Army of killing over 200 persons in an extrajudicial manner during a series of intercommunal attacks and counter-attacks between the Jukuns and Tivs.

    The abduction and death of 19 soldiers, who were deployed to the state to restore peace among the rival communities, reportedly provoked the attack on the civilians.

    Sahara Reporters said 30 villagers were killed and 200 houses, including the palace of Tyoor Unaha Kôkô in Agidi,  were set ablaze.

    Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at [email protected]. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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