Guber poll: Reps invite CDS, COAS over extra-judicial killings, assault on colleague

Kehinde Akintola – Abuja

The House of Representatives on Wednesday invited the Chiefs of Defense and Army Staff over alleged extra-judicial killings, as well as assault of a serving member of Parliament and other Nigerians during the just concluded Governorship and State Houses of Assembly’s elections in Gboko, Benue State.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Mark Gbillah, who gave vivid account of his ordeal with Men of the 401 Special Forces Brigade of the Nigerian Army assaulted Residents of Gboko and Guests of Old Barn Hotel, Gboko.

The duo are expected to appear before the House to explain the circumstances behind the unprovoked attack and why these military officers did not carry proper identification or inform the civilians about their mission.

The lawmakers also stressed the need for the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff to explain the military’s rules of engagement during election monitoring and other engagements with the civilian population, especially considering the extrajudicial killing of two young men in Gboko by the same 401 Special Forces Brigade on 18th March 2023 for alleged ballot snatching.

He said: “The House notes the primary duties of the Nigerian Army as enshrined in Section 217 subsection (2) (a)-(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is to defend Nigeria from external aggression; maintain its territorial integrity, suppress insurrection and aid civil authorities to restore order subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

“The House also notes that the operational use of the Armed Forces in Nigeria is for the purpose of maintaining and securing public safety and public order in accordance with Section 8 (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“The House is concerned about the worsening spate of military and police brutality, extra-judicial killings by security operatives on civilians and unarmed Nigerians.

“The House is worried about the unfortunate incidence of Saturday 18 March 2023 at Old Barn Hotel, Gboko in Benue State, where at about 2:30 am, men of the 401 Division of the Nigerian Army viciously assaulted and brutalized several persons and guests.

“The House is also concerned that these military men, numbering over 20 stormed the hotel in Nigerian Army trucks and dressed in military uniforms but without any identifiers such as name tags, any form of personal identity or ranks.

“The House is disturbed that the military men ordered all persons within view to move, gather in groups and squat on the ground without explanation such cruel and inhuman treatment.

“The House is also worried that in the course of obeying the Army Officers’ commands, one of the soldiers accosted the Honourable and slapped him.

“The House is also disturbed that despite introducing himself as a serving member of the House of Representatives, the soldier rather poured more invectives on the Honourable and ordered his subordinates to slap him and in an attempt to defend himself from the unprovoked assault, about 20 soldiers pounced on him and others with guns and brutally assaulted them, this resulted in serious injuries on his head, face, shoulders, chest, back, both arms, and legs.

“The House is further disturbed that this same team of soldiers were allegedly responsible for the extrajudicial killings of at least two (2) persons in Gboko in two separate instances on the same day.

“The House is more disturbed that since the attack, several media outlets particularly, Leadership Sunday, The Sunday Sun, Daily Trust and Vanguard Newspapers of Sunday, 19th March 2023 were awash with defamatory reports and images falsely linking the assault on Rep. Sokpo to Electoral violence.

“The House is desirous of the need to re-enforce its statutory role of ensuring the security and welfare of the people as the primary purpose of government,” he said.

While condemning the assault on Old Barn Hotel, Gboko and its guests by men of the Nigerian Army on 18 March, 2023, the House urged the Chiefs of Defense and Army Staff to commence a comprehensive investigation of the incident (ensuring evidence is obtained from civilian witnesses) with the view to identifying the soldiers that were responsible for this mayhem.

The invited Officers are expected to brief House about actions currently taken by military authorities to investigate the unprovoked assault on residents of Gboko, including Hon. Kpam Jimin Sokpo and the shooting to death of two persons in Gboko on 18 March 2023.

To this end, the House mandated the Committee on Army to ensure compliance and report to the House within two weeks.

Back to top button