The Peoples Alternative Forum (PAF) has called on the Nigerian Army to withdraw troop who invaded Ekemor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on July 23, 2019.
The group also warned that barbaric military invasions in the name of security would no longer be tolerated in Nigeria’s democracy.
In a statement signed on Monday by Femi Falana, chairman of PAF said, “During the invasion the armed troops looted properties, raped women and burnt down all the houses in the community after chasing away residents including the traditional ruler, His Royal Highness Awame Festus Oru.”
“After chasing away the residents the armed troops have taken over the community. In justifying the illegal occupation of the community the spokesman for the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Major Danjuma Jonah claimed that We are combing the community and neighbouring towns in search of one of the soldiers that is missing as a result of the attack that led to the death of two other soldiers. Punch Newspaper, July 23, 2019),” it said.
The group condemned the killing of two soldiers and called on the army to withdraw troops from the community to avoid further provocations from locals.
The statement read, “While we condemn the brutal killing of the two soldiers and the kidnap of another soldier by unidentified criminal elements we urge the Army Authorities to withdraw the armed troops that are illegally occupying the community.
“Since the Nigerian Army has no power to take the law into its hands the search for the missing soldier cannot be a justification for chasing away the people of Azaghene community after destroying their houses and other valuable properties.
“Having regards to the facts and circumstances of the unfortunate killing of the two soldiers and the reprisal attack on the community by the Nigerian Army we hereby call on the Bayelsa State government to institute a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the civil disturbances and recommend appropriate monetary compensation for all the victims of the eggregious human rights abuses in the Azaghene community.”
Speaking on behalf of the group, human rights lawyer, Falana warned the troops not to think they are sacred cows like in Zaki Biam, Benue State.
He said, “Unlike the soldiers who destroyed Odi in Bayelsa state, Zaki Biam in Benue State and Gbaramotu in Delta State who were treated like sacred cows the armed troops who invaded Azaghene last week and unleashed mindless attack on unarmed people should be fished out and prosecuted.
“Otherwise, the barbaric military invasion of communities in Nigeria will continue under the pretext of searching for missing soldiers.”