Community petitions COAS over alleged harassment by soldiers
Army denies claim
Bassa local council of Plateau State, the host community of the 3 Amoured Division of Nigerian Army has petitioned the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Major Gen. Tukur Buratai, alleging intimidation and harassment of property owners and villagers by soldiers of Maxwell Khobe Cantonment in Jos.
This development, according to youths in the area, if not urgently addressed would bring a setback in the state government’s quest for peace on the Plateau.
According to a letter of complaints written by one Mrs. Rita Akison to the Zonal Coordinator, North Central National Human Right Commission titled “Alleged harassment, intimidation, threat to personal dignity and denial of rights to own a property,” she established a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in the area to care for orphans and vulnerable children and also set up a block industry, so that proceeds from it will be used to finance the NGO.
Akison lamented that soldiers from the barracks invaded her block industry with rifles and chased away her workers, adding that this has crippled the NGO, as she can no longer afford to run the facility.
The 3 Armoured Division Headquarters, however reacted to the allegations at the weekend through a letter titled “Observation on breach of security within the vicinity of Maxwell Khobe Cantonment” addressed to the Chairman of Bassa Local Council signed by Col. O.D. Williams on behalf of the Acting General Officer Commanding, made available to journalists in Jos.
The letter reads in part: “In view of the above, I am directed to humbly request you to instruct the owners of those houses and shops to immediately stop further construction of their structures in view of the proximity to the cantonment, more so, this could further be used by Boko Haram terrorists and other miscreants as a base to spring attacks on the cantonment.”
The letter further added, “Accordingly any person seen within those structures will be viewed as a criminal element and an ardent supporter of the extremists and hence will be arrested and prosecuted.”
In the same vein, in a letter also from the office of the Executive Chairman of Bassa and addressed to the GOC, dated 4th April, with reference BLG/LAN/TP/F/1 titled “Re: Observation on breach of security within the vicinity of Maxwell Khobe Cantonment said, That ensuring the security of lives and propertY is a collective responsibility and is paramount to the council.”
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