Reps summon CDS, CoAS as soldiers assault lawmaker, Benue hotel guests

The House of Representatives has summoned the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff over alleged assaults on a lawmaker, residents of Gboko and guests of Old Barn Hotel in Benue.

This is sequel to the adoption of a motion by Mark Gbillah (LP-Benue) during the plenary in Abuja on Wednesday.

Mr Gbillah expressed concerns over the worsening spate of military and police brutality and extrajudicial killings by security operatives on civilians and unarmed Nigerians.

He condemned the March 18 incident at Old Barn Hotel, Gboko, where men of 401 Division of the Nigerian Army allegedly assaulted and brutalised several persons and guests.

The lawmaker said military men, numbering over 20, stormed the hotel in Nigerian Army trucks, dressed in military uniforms but without identifiers such as name tags or any form of personal identity and ranks.

Mr Gbillah said the military men ordered all persons within view to move, gather in groups and squat on the ground without explanation, describing the assault as inhuman treatment.

According to him, while obeying the army officers’ commands, one of the soldiers accosted a House of Reps member and slapped him.

He said this was despite the lawmaker introducing himself as a serving member, adding that the soldier poured more invectives on him (lawmaker) and ordered his subordinates to slap him.

Mr Gbillah said in an attempt to defend himself from the unprovoked assault, about 20 soldiers pounced on him, and others with guns brutally assaulted him.

This, according to him, resulted in severe injuries on his head, face,

shoulders, chest, back, both arms and legs.

The house, however, resolved to invite the Chief of Defence and Chief of Army Staff to appear before it to explain the circumstances behind the unprovoked attack.

The house said they should be made to explain the military’s rules of engagement during election monitoring and other engagements with the civilian population.

This, according to the lawmakers, was sequel to the extrajudicial killing of two young men in Gboko by the same 401 Special Forces Brigade for alleged ballot snatching.

The house also said they should brief the lawmakers on actions currently taken by military authorities to investigate the unprovoked assault on residents of Gboko.

The house said their explanation should also include the assault on Rep . Kpam Sokpo and the shooting to death of two persons in Gboko on the same day.

The house, however, mandated the committee on the army to ensure compliance and report to it within two weeks.


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