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Published On: Sun, Oct 12th, 2014

Again, soldiers kill 3 squatters in Abuja

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Nigerian Army
  • DHQ denies knowledge

By Ado, Musa, Joy Baba-Yesufuand Mashe Umar Gwamna with agency report

Not  less than three persons were reportedly killed yesterday by soldiers and security operatives, in a joint operation in the early hours of yesterday at a refugees camp, located  in Durumi quarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to reports from the Hausa Service of the BBC as well as the Voice of America monitored in Abuja, the Nigerian army personnel stormed a refugee camp, shooting to death three Gwoza refugees and injuring an unspecified number of other Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the process.

The refugees were said to have fled their residential homes in Gwoza local government area of Borno state following the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.

According to the BBC, the killing of the refugees came when soldiers, in their large numbers stormed the refugee camp in Abuja occupied by the residents of Gwoza who to had ran to Abuja to take a cover from Boko Haram insurgency and that the rest of them were driven away, some with gunshot  wounds.

According to a victim of the incident, who spoke to BBC, but who refused to mention his name,  “the incident occurred at exactly 1: a.m after mid-night, when all of us were sleeping and suddenly we began to hear gun shots from different directions.

“Many of us started running helter-skelter seeking for cover in the nearby bush. I thought of running but later laid on the ground to avoid being hit by bullets. Realising that the soldiers had left, I also quickly ran to the bush to look for my relatives.

“The following day, in the morning (yesterday), we saw two dead bodies on the ground, who were allegedly shot in the camp and we heard that one dead body was also found at the camp environment. Right from the bush to the camp we saw blood littering on the ground, while many were injured.

When BBC asked the victim as to where they all came from and settled in the area, the victim who didn’t disclose his name, said, “We are from Gwoza in Borno state. We were chased by the violence of Boko Haram insurgents.”

The BBC however reported that the bodies of the deceased were yesterday in the morning taken by the Police in Abuja.

When contacted for comment on the incident, the police authorities in Abuja told the BBC to contact the military, but that when the  Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, was contacted on telephone, the calls were not answered.

Also, efforts by Peoples Daily to get the confirmation from the Defence Headquarters did not yield any positive result. Major-General Olukoade could not confirm the incident, but however referred our enquiries to the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Olajide Laleye, who said he did not have such information.

At the time of going to press, however, Laleye informed our correspondent that the Army was planning to issue a statement on the matter.

A source close to the military circle suggested also that it was not clear whether the operation was carried out by the army, Airforce, Navy or the SSS, but that further investigations will reveal the details of the incident.

It could be recalled that in September 2013, seven persons were reportedly killed by soldiers and men of the State Security Service (SSS), in a joint operation at the Apo Legislative quarters in Abuja.

At that time, eyewitnesses said the building harbored itinerant menial workers and traders of Northern extraction who pay token to the watchmen for the nights after which they fan out to their different shores in the day.

The spokesperson of the State security service (SSS), Marylyn Ogar, who confirmed the incident said the security personnel acted on a tip-off by two Boko Haram elements, who had earlier been arrested for terrorists activities.

Ogar said the two men led security team to a building behind Apo Legislative quarters in Abuja, where arms were suspected to have been stored. In the process of searching for the arms, the SSS spokesperson said other members of the sect around opened fire and the security personnel had to respond promptly. But  sources who  witnessed the incident revealed that no fewer than seven persons were feared killed during the gun duel.

Meanwhile, the #BringBackOurGirls advocacy group has strongly condemned yesterday’s alleged attack at the refugees camp in Abuja.

The leader of the group, Oby Ezekwesili, said “ it seems that the military was solely after those people that relocated from Boron, Yobe and Adamawa states. This is not an Apartheid; and this is the points we have all along been making, when we said bring back our girls now and alive. It is clear that they are the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

“The way they are treated means there should be a standardised way of treating them”, she maintained.

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