The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), has said that a Captain of the Nigerian Army and 10 of his fighting forces deployed in Konshisha LGA of Benue State, to restore order were killed by suspected “bandits”, with their bodies burnt beyond recognition.
The disclosure put a lie to an earlier statement by the Army claiming that the bodies of the officer and personnel were recovered by a joint search and rescue team. In a statement on Tuesday night, the Army had claimed, inter alia: “…the search and rescue team unfortunately found all the missing troops dead in Konshisha LGA of Benue State.
“While the bodies of the slain troops were evacuated immediately, efforts are ongoing to track down the perpetrators of this heinous crime with a view to bringing them to Justice”. However, a statement by the Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, further underscored the argument in many quarters, that the military and security agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting the nation’s territorial integrity, among others, work at cross purposes. Providing updates on the unfortunate incident, the DHQ regretted that the killings occurred at a time the Benue State government appeared to have made substantial progress in its ongoing peace efforts. Specifically, the DHQ, said: “The ‘ill-fated’ deployment was occasioned by ‘communal clashes in recent times between the people of Konshisha and Oju over boundary demarcation.’”
It, however, warned that all weapons carted away during the attack must be returned, even as local leaders are advised to turn in perpetrators of the heinous act, in their interest. “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 11 soldiers and their officer beyond recognition while their weapons and ammunition were carted away.” The statement read: “The attention of the Defence Headquarters is drawn to 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. “The Defence Headquarters, which oversight responsibility for Operation Whirl Stroke, has deployed to maintain peace in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, has deemed it necessary to refute these spurious allegations and put the records straight.”