Pandemonium as NAF personnel allegedly invade Benue community
There was pandemonium at the weekend in Ugondo Mega Layout, Phase Two of Makurdi, Benue State capital as men of the Tactical Air Command of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) allegedly invaded the community, manhandling residents and damaging some property and other petty articles of the residents.
Victims and eyewitnesses, some, who are resident of the area, alleged that the NAF personnel, numbering about 200 and led by their commander, stormed the community in the early hours of Saturday in three trucks, armed and entered houses already occupied, those under construction, beating up some of the residents, claiming that the land they were living belongs to the NAF.
Narrating their ordeal to journalists on a visit to the affected area, residents were seen in groups discussing their next line of action, even as women and children were already trying to relocate to other areas for safety.
Some of them that spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity said they personally saw the NAF Commander, who allegedly gave the order for the destruction of the houses and assault on the residents.
“The NAF Commander was among the personnel that came to wreak havoc on us. A Professor that lived among us tried to calm him down not to terrorise us but to no avail. They beat us up, with our wives, destroyed our houses and asked us to vacate the area within few days. Some of our neighbours were rushed to the hospitals due to injuries sustained and because of the trauma they got. Also, working tools belonging to labourers working on the site and their bags as well as mixed and unmixed cement and electrical fittings were forcefully destroyed. The sum of N3, 500 was also snatched from a widow, one Mrs. Dorcas Kambe,” they narrated.
Still speaking on the ground of anonymity, some landlords in the community insisted they did not occupy the area illegally but the land was allocated to them by the state government with necessary papers and expressed surprise why NAF officials are trying to forcefully collect it from them.
One of the victims and a lecturer at the State University, Makurdi, Pila Nasela said he was ordered to lie face down and kiss the ground before he was given the beating of his life, while Mrs. Gladys Gaadi said she was given a week ultimatum to leave her house or would lose her things when next they come.
The Guardian investigation in the area revealed that the state government had agreed to compensate the NAF authorities for a piece of land adjacent to the attacked area, even as investigation has it that the action of the NAF personnel could be a measure to ginger government action in that regard.
Another woman whose house was allegedly torched but refused to disclose her identity on security grounds said when members of the community were building their houses, nobody came to stop them, and appealed to Governor Samuel Ortom to wade into the matter to solve it once and for all.
Expressing dismay over the incident, the Ter Makurdi, HRH Chief Sule Abenga condemned the attack on his subjects allegedly by the NAF officials without due process and appealed to his people to remain calm and await the response from government.