House Summons Defence, Army Chiefs over Alleged Assault, Killing of Benue Residents 

Udora Orizu in Abuja 

The House of Representatives has summoned the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, and Chief of Army Staff (CAS), Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, to appear before it over alleged assault on a member of the House, Hon. Kpam Sokpo, residents of Gboko and guests of Old Barn Hotel, Gboko by men of the 401 Special Forces Brigade of the Nigerian Army.

The security Chiefs are 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.

They are to also tell the House 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 March 18, 2023 for alleged ballot snatching.

The House equally urged the CDS and CAS 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 resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Mark Gbillah at plenary on Wednesday.

Moving the motion, the lawmaker

noted 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 lawmaker expressed concern over the worsening spate of military and police brutality, extra-judicial killings by security operatives on civilians and unarmed Nigerians.

He further expressed concerns over the unfortunate incidence of Saturday, March 18, 2023 at Old Barn Hotel, Gboko, 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.

Gbillah said: “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. 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. Also worried that in the course of obeying the Army officers’ commands, one of the soldiers accosted the honourable and slapped him.

“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.” 

Adopting the motion, the House while  condemning the assault, mandated its Committee on Army to ensure compliance with the prayers and report to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.

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