Military dismisses alleged shooting of civilians in Plateau by soldiers

Operation Safe Haven, a special military task force maintaining peace in Plateau and environs, has dismissed the allegation that its soldiers shot innocent civilians in the recent attacks in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau.

Major Samson Zhakom, the Media Officer of the operation, denied the allegation in a statement on Monday in Jos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Coalition of Bokkos Ethnic Youth Nationalities alleged that soldiers shot civilians and compounded the vulnerability of residents of the locality.

The group, who called for the removal of the Commander of OPSH Step-Up Headquarters 2 in Bokkos, said that the security agencies failed to quell the recent killings in some communities of the council.

But the media officer described the allegation as unfounded and aimed at tarnishing the good image of the military and other security agencies in the state.

 He also noted that the claim by the group that security agencies deployed to Bokkos had a confrontation with vigilantes was mischievous, insisting that the personnel were professional while repelling the attack.

”Security agencies were rather preoccupied with restoring normalcy during the confrontations between different ethnic groups on April 13, 2024.

”Kudos should be given to these troops who remained deployed without break for over 72 hours ensuring that the high grounds and other vulnerable communities were dominated in a bid to protect law-abiding citizens.

”Also, the use of sophisticated weapons by the acclaimed vigilante was further buttressed by the discovery of eleven rounds of 7.62 mm (special) ammunition in the possession of the dead militia contrary to claims that he was a vigilante who was using dane gun to protect his community.

”Moreover, the acclaimed vigilante was already dead before the troops arrived the area, therefore, the allegation of killing of the vigilante is a calculated effort to feign weakness and exonerate the dead vigilante from his participation in the attacks and counter reprisals,” he said.

Zhakom further said that the call by the group for the removal of its set-up commander in Bokkos was malicious and aimed at dampening the morale of troops in carrying out their lawful duties.

”The call is not unconnected with the increased tempo of operations carried out by troops under the command of the senior officer which has denied criminal elements on both sides of the divide the freedom of action.

”The desperation of the petitioners may have been aggravated by the impartial stance of the commander during the attack which is already given a religious connotation to stir sentiment and instigate spill over to other parts of Plateau.

”It is of utmost importance to stress the risks associated with desperate attempts to galvanise negative public opinion against security agencies taking into account the risks it poses.

”Notwithstanding the deliberate efforts to cast aspersion on our personnel, security agencies will continue to take proactive steps to prevent breakdown of law and order in our joint operations area,” he said.

The media officer, however, called on residents of the state to support the military and other security agencies in their bid toward ensuring a peaceful Plateau.

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