The Nigerian Army on Wednesday denied the invasion of Katsina Ala communities in Benue State where several houses were burnt on Monday.
According to the statement issued by the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 707 Special Forces Brigade, Nigerian Army, Major Olabisi Ayeni, intelligence report indicated that those who carried out the arson on Katsina Ala communities only disguised as soldiers.
The statement also said that the victim of the robbery incident was a discharged soldier who was traveling from Lagos to Katsina Ala.
Several houses were reportedly burnt down by supposed soldiers in the early hours of Monday in what locals described as reprisal over the killing of an army colonel at Saitti Agirigi along Katsina Ala- Tarkum expressway on Sunday.
The military in its statement on Wednesday described the report as ‘baseless and unfounded’, adding, ‘our soldiers have been conducting themselves professionally in line with established Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct for troops.’
According to the statement, ‘there was an incidence of reported armed robbery at Agirigi Community in Katsina-Ala LGA of Benue State on Monday 18th December 2017, where a discharged soldier travelling from Lagos to Katsina-Ala ran into unidentified suspected gunmen that fired at his vehicle and was killed.’
“Troops on Joint Task Force Operations Zyenda immediately moved to the scene of the incident. Unfortunately, the assailants absconded before the troops’ arrival.
“The body was recovered and moved to Markurdi, the State capital. Patrols were also immediately intensified in the area of incident with a view to arresting the suspects, ensure normalcy, restoration of law and order and to also give confidence to the locals to pursue their daily activities without fear.
“Consequently, on the early hours of 18th December 2017, there was an intelligence report that some people dressed in military uniforms were burning houses in the general area of the incident.”
“Upon arrival of own troops, nobody was seen in the area, however, it was suspected that the same armed men returned to attack the community probably believing the locals gave the security agencies information on their location.”
“We wish to state that it was not the troops of the Nigerian Army that were involved in the alleged arson; such uncivilized act is against the ethics of the Nigerian Army.”
” It is our constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and properties of the civil populace and ensure peaceful co-existence amongst Nigerians.
“Our troops are trained to ensure this without fear or favour,” the statement said.