From Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), has described as mischievous and an attempt to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Military, allegation of killing and raping of Tiv women .
Reacting to the allegation made by Tiv leaders residing in Taraba State’ under the aegis of ‘Tiv Cultural and Social Association (TCSA) that soldiers were perpetrating the criminality under the guise of anti-banditry operation ,the DHQ said although troops ”indeed conducted a dawn raid at Rafin Kada in Wukari LGA and Yojaa in Donga LGA of Taraba State on 29 June 2020,” the operation followed confirmation of the existence of ”bandits’ hideout based on actionable human and technical intelligence on their activities in the general area.”
This intelligence,according to the Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, was “gleaned from both military intelligence sources in the field, as well as credible local sources in those same communities, who affirmed the activities of the bandits as it were.”
Continuing, Enenche said :”troops do not just embark on operations for the mere fun of it, especially when lives are at stake. Before operations are conducted, the Military Intelligence Fusion Cell gathers and effectively processes this pool of information, before emerging with actionable intelligence.
This ensures that troops operate with utmost accuracy of information, and consequently know where to go and what to do.
“Again, during the actual operation, the troops came in contact with suspected Tiv militias at Tse Juku village. The armed militias opened fire on sighting the troops who responded with superior firepower thereby neutralizing four of them in the process while unconfirmed number escaped with gunshot wounds.
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“Troops also recovered 2 locally made rifles, 55 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, 117 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 3 mobile phones, 3 AK 47 magazines, 2 motorcycles, one military shirt uniform, one Peace Corps ID Card belonging to one Mr Anyor Fidelis and some charms.
When one considers that Nigerian soldiers engaged and neutralized four bandits and recovered the above-mentioned items from them, it is difficult to see or understand what ‘innocent civilian families’ would be doing in the midst of armed bandits, as claimed by the TCSA.
“For all intents and purposes, it is to be noted that that Armed Forces of Nigeria have a mandate to go after armed bandits, herdsmen, militias, and all other criminal elements, be they Tiv, Jukun or from any other ethnic group for that matter.
“Troops are strictly guided by Rules of Engagement (ROE), in addition to the International Laws of Armed Conflict, and International Humanitarian Law, amongst other constitutional provisions which guide the conduct of our troops in any engagement.
“It is mischievous to suggest that soldiers are raping their wives and daughters, and also destroying their properties in the name of manhunt for bandits in Southern Taraba.”