By George Okoh in Makurdi
Unknown armed men yesterday at Abaji in Katsina/Ala Local Government Area of Benue State gunned down ten members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) setup by the Benue State Government to tackle criminal activities in the state.
Confirming the attack in a telephone interview, the State Chairman of the CJTF, Alhaji Aliu Teshaku, stated that the victims were holding their routine weekly meeting when they were attacked.
Tseshaku said: “The information I received was that our members were in a meeting today (Sunday) when they saw three armed men on motorbike dressed in riot police uniform suddenly stormed the meeting venue.
“Before they realised what was happening, the gang opened fire on the unarmed CJTF members killing 10 of them on the spot while two others were left with serious bullet wounds.”
Lamenting the killings, Teshaku said the CJTF had over a period of time been in a running battle with a traditional ruler in the area, name withheld, whom he said had been threatening members of the task force to leave the area.
“Few days ago, I reported the matter to the Special Adviser to the governor on Security and just today this has happened.”
When contacted, the state Command Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Assistant Superintendent, Moses Yamu, corroborated the account of the CJTF chairman.
Yamu however said nine members of the task force were killed on the spot while others sustained injuries, adding that the remains of the killed had been deposited at the General hospital Katsina/Ala mortuary.
He said the Commissioner of Police Mr. Bashir Makama, had drafted more police personnel to the area to forestall further attack while investigations into the matter had commenced.