…Nigerian Army reacts, sues for peace
BY AMOS TAUNA, KADUNA – A soldier attached to Command Secondary School Kaduna, Command Junction along Kachia Road, on Friday shot dead a 35 year old father of one, Solomon Andy.
According to an eye witness account, the boy was involved in removing sharp sand from a gully by the fence separating the Military Secondary School and the community, next to the burial ground when the soldier shot him.
The eye witness said there has been a running battle between the soldiers and youths in the community over the excavation of sand around the area, with this particular soldier always threatening to deal with anybody found within the vicinity.
He said on this Friday morning, the youths reportedly took to their heels on sighting the gun welding soldier. However, the late Solomon refused to run, instead he was pleading with the soldier to let him take the sand to eke out a living since the sand inside gutter actually belongs to nobody, particularly around the burial ground.
The source said this got the soldier got as he considered it an affront by Solomon and suddenly released the trigger to gun down his victim.
The unfortunate development prompted an outrage as youths from the vicinity took Solomon’s corpse to the Command Secondary School’s gate, protesting that the killer soldier be brought out for justice.
In the pandemonium that ensued, the angry youths barricaded the school’s entrance, all adjourning roads from the School to Kachia and the NNPC refinery in Kaduna as well as others leading to Romi and Gonin-Gora and Abuja expressway. This resulted in traffic gridlock for almost four hours with stranded motorists having to seek alternative routes.
But in its reaction, the Army said, “the attention of Headquarters 1 Division Nigerian has been drawn to tension arising from an incident that occurred at about 10:00am today, (Friday) 9 June 2017.
“A soldier of the Division Internal Security Force deployed at Command Secondary School Kaduna opened fire on some youths suspected to have encroached into the school premises. One of the youths was hit and died at the spot.”
The statement signed by Colonel Kingsley Umoh, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 1 Division Nigerian Army said “officers have been deployed to the scene of the incidence in response and the Police have also been invited to take control of the situation.”
Speaking at an emergency meeting to resolve the impasse with some traditional rulers and youth leaders from Television community, representative of the State Governor and Coordinator of Operation Yaki, Col. Yakubu Soja (Rtd), assured the people that the state government would conduct proper investigation into the episode with the sole aim of prosecuting the culprit.
He said the governor is saddened by the unfortunate development and appealed for calm among the citizens of the state, even as he urged citizens to refrain from taking the laws into their hands.
Col Soja stated that the Army Command has commenced the process of disciplining the said Soldier, and advised the people not attribute religious coloration to the incident but see it as a regrettable clash between civilians and soldiers.
His words, “We cannot allow this to go unpunished, we shall investigate the cause of the incidence and ensure the law takes its course. The Army authority has already taken action against the soldier that shot dead the civilian. We assuring the people that justice shall take its course.”
Efforts by the Police Officers on ground to broker a peace deal with the youths was unsuccessful, necessitating a reinforcement of combined operatives of soldiers MOPOL and regular police in two trucks and over 15 Toyota Hilux vans.
Forefront learnt that the youths, who refused to be appeased by the police intervention, however insisted on being address by a high-ranking government that can give them assurance justice would be served before they would allow the police ferry the corpse away from the scene.
The situation was to deteriorate further when the police insisted on taking the corpse with the aggrieved youths pelting the offices with stones. In the standoff that followed, three other persons were injured and are now receiving treatment at St. Gerald Catholic Hospital, Kakuri.