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1 Apr 2018

Operation Cat Race: Taraba, Benue, Adamawa residents recount soldiers’ brutality, increased attacks

Some residents of the Takum and Ussa Local Government Areas in Taraba State, including those in Benue and Adamawa states, have accused soldiers, currently on Operation Ayem Akpatuma (Cat Race), of molesting and attacking residents.
Rimanfeten Maiyaki was deep asleep when a knock on his door jolted him at about 3.06am. The hard knock was accompanied by a loud voice, “Open this door before we break it. We are soldiers; open the door.”

Maiyaki, a 300-level student of Modibo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State, said he opened the door and saw some soldiers.

He said, “I was given a sound slap and forced out of the house. Three of the soldiers pushed me aside and entered the room to search it. They took me away and continued beating me. The youth leader in our community came and pleaded with them to release me. Till now, I don’t know why I was beaten.”

He added that he just returned to his village located at the outskirts of Lissam, in the Ussa Local Government Area headquarters that day when the soldiers, who he said were among those on Operation Cat Race, in the state, came.

“I was admitted to a private hospital after the incident and I spent N32,700 on treatment before I was discharged after one and a half weeks,” he stated.

Maiyaki alleged that N182, 000 he made from the sale of groundnuts he harvested and from a contribution was taken away by the soldiers.

The 26-year-old, who stammered and shivered as he narrated his experience in the hands of the soldiers, accused the soldiers of taking away his transistor radio, a Tecno phone, MP3 player and other valuables.

More victims relieve experiences

Another victim, a 48-year-old widow, Mrs. Jummai Andeyaba, from Kwesati village in the Ussa council area, said she was away at a wake in a neighbouring community when her children called her on the telephone at 3am that soldiers broke into their house.

Andeyaba said the soldiers demanded the key to her room and that her children told them that she took the key along with her.

“They then broke into my room and took away N150,000. They left before I arrived at home. I discovered that they took my money and I immediately reported the matter to the chief and the local government area chairman,” she said.

A businessman, Mr. Michael Babakogi, based in Takum, said he was mercilessly beaten by some of the soldiers who also deflated the tyres of his car.

Narrating his experience in the hands of the soldiers, Babakogi said he was driving along Yola Road in Takum when he noticed, from the mirror, a military convoy driving at high speed behind him.

He said, “I quickly moved away from the road and parked to give way for the convoy. The soldiers too parked in front of me and started beating me. They deflated the tyres of my car while others were beating me. When I saw one of them coming towards me with a knife, I became afraid and asked one of them, who I know, to tell me what I did wrong. It was when he discovered that I know him that he told others to stop beating me and they left.

“As I speak, I am still on drugs as a result of the beatings I got from them. I went to the hospital immediately and I have spent N15,850 so far on medication.”

‘Army failed to carry us along’

The chairmen of the Takum and Ussa LGAs, Messrs Shiban Tikari and Rimansikwe Karma respectively, blamed the development on the failure of the Operation Cat Race officers to carry them along when the operation started.

Tikari said before the operation started, there were instances where kidnappers and armed robbers used Special Anti-Robbery Squad and army uniforms, adding that people were bound to mistake the army operation for the kidnappers.

He said, “Courtesy demands that the army should carry us, the LG chairmen and traditional rulers, along at the start of their operation even though it was announced. It was only on March 1 that I received a letter from the army, officially informing me of the beginning of the operation in the state when it actually began on February 15.

“Even at that, the operation is supposed to be a joint operation and the army is not supposed to be carrying out the operation alone. If the army carried other sister security agencies along, the allegations may not have cropped up or we may have had witnesses other than the victim themselves.

“Cases of kidnapping have been going on for some times in front of the army barracks without the army doing anything about it, including the killing of a member of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Hosea Ibi.”

Tikari described as laughable reports that soldiers were breaking into people’s houses at night.

Also, Karma said the Operation Cat Race started in the area with a major oversight which he described as the failure to carry the council chairmen along as the chief security officers of their local government areas.

According to him, the illegal search on people’s homes without the knowledge of the chairmen and other security agencies had created suspicion and anxiety among the people.

Source: PunchNews

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