Tension in Edo as soldiers burn down 15 houses
It was a tale of woes and anguish for residents of the riverine Ajakurama community near the Egbema Kingdom in Ovia South West council area of Edo state as soldiers razed down 15 houses in the area.
The incident occurred in the early hours of the day as the residents of the area flee for their lives.
Investigations revealed that the soldiers said to be men of the Operation Crocodile Smile2 had stormed the community in nine gunboats and several speedboats in search of suspected kidnappers.
It was alleged that the soldiers were called into Ajakurama community at about 8:00 am by an ex-militant General identified as Mr. Ejuene Peres to settle old scores against those perceived to be his arch enemies.
But Peres in reactions said he never invited soldiers to the community, stressing that he only petitioned some persons in the community before the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris who referred the matter to the AIG Zone 5, Benin for proper investigation over the alleged destruction of his house.
He said, “I did not invite any soldiers, I didn’t make any arrangement with any soldier to enter into Ajakurama; Ajakurama is a community on its own. It is a Nigerian community; soldiers can go to Ajakurama for any of their investigations. If soldiers went to Ajakurama community they should not call me. I did not invite soldiers to Ajakurama; people who offended me, I wrote a petition to the IGP and the IGP recommended the petition to the AIG.
“The AIG invited them, so they should go and answer the AIG who is still waiting for them. so, if anything happens to them, I don’t know where they have put their hands, I have not handed in Ajakurama matter. They should ask the federal government how soldiers came to Ajakurama, they should ask Abuja, they should ask Zone 5; they should ask Operation Crocodile in Warri why they are in Ajakurama.”
It was learnt that the family of the said Peres had a previous case involving the alleged murder of a community leader from another household in the same area.
The source stated that family members of the deceased community leader had taken the corpse discovered to be floating on a nearby village river to the residential family building of Mr. Peres which lasted for over one week.
Elders and residents of the community were said to have called for a truce and buried the man while the case was pending at the office of the AIG Zone 5 in Benin.
Further findings showed the said Peres in a bid to avenge the old vexed issue in which his father was alleged fingered, invited the soldiers.
The source also alleged Peres had personally led the soldiers to point at the houses of perceived enemies before they destroyed the buildings.
According to the source that preferred anonymous, the invasion which took residents by surprise was allegedly on the invitation of the military by ex-Militant General, Mr. Ejuene Peres under the pretext of searching for kidnappers.
The source noted that the said Peres used the military invasion to settled old score he had with some persons in the community who fingered his family over the death of the community leader.
“He (Peres) brought in military men to invade the community of some selected persons. They came in 9 gunboats and several speedboats. People started running helter skater for their lives. He was with the soldiers pointing at houses while the soldiers set houses ablaze”
“He listed among other victims whose houses were affected as Chief Godwin Namu, Baba Agbuke, aka Zion and all Ex-militant leaders.”
The source added that inhabitants of the community are peaceful people and wondered why such invasion could be carried out by the military without proper investigation.
It was also gathered that the soldiers on arrival switched off the GSM communications mast located within the area to prevent any contact with people outside the community.
All efforts to get the comment of the Army Public Relations Officer for 4 Brigade Command, Benin, Capt. Muhammed Maidawa yesterday was not successful as he failed to pick nor reply to the repeated calls and SMS to his phone.
Also, the State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Moses Nkombe when contacted yesterday said the command was not aware of the incident.