PLATEAU, Nigeria – An internal military task force in Plateau State, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), has refuted allegations that it has a hand in the death of two young men in the Riyom Local Government Area of the state.
Locals had accused personnel of the military unit of complicity after two youths, Jerry Bitrus, 28, and Joseph Davou, 32, were reportedly killed last Sunday by gunmen in the area.
But the military outfit has maintained that it has no hand in the death of the youths.
Authorities of Operation Safe Haven explained that its personnel who were on patrol on the said date were only drafted to the area after a distress call was made to the unit.
The OPSH, while defending itself from the allegations claimed some mischievous persons from the area were trying to discredit the work of military outfit.
A statement signed by its Media Officer, Major Ibrahim Shittu, the OPSH maintained that the accusations were concocted to set the public against the army.
The statement read in full: “The attention of the Operation SAFE HAVEN (OPSH) has been drawn to reports alleging the killing of two youths by gunmen in the Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State.
“The report which claimed that more facts have emerged on how the gunmen killed the two young men on Sunday around 7.09pm, said some locals accused men of Operation Safe Haven of being responsible for the attack and killing of the victims.
“Having gone through this report and allegations made, we wish to dissociate our men from this act in its entirety. This allegation is not only false, mischievous and baseless but also aimed at discrediting the operation.
“To set the records straight, we wish to state that on Sunday, January 10, 2021, the Commander Sector 6 of Riyom General Area was called by the youth leader of Ghoss to inform him that two (2) persons were shot by unknown gunmen. Following the information, he swiftly mobilized his troops in conjunction with the Riyom Police Division to the scene.
On their arrival, they met the two victims who were incapacitated and bleeding profusely. A close examination by the team showed that one was already dead while the other one was evacuated to K Vom Christian Hospital in the company of some youths; unfortunately, he later gave up the ghost.
The military authority explained that it also informed the Riyom Police Division in the area of the development and they duly recovered the corpses of the victims.
“A member of the Plateau State House of Assembly representing Riyom Constituency, Hon Timothy Datong, who also heard of the development, called the Commander Sector 6 where the incident happened and he was briefed accordingly.
“It is however sad that some mischievous persons are accusing personnel of OPSH of the killings.
“You will recall that based on the threats to that general area during the Yuletide season, OPSH increased its deployment to serve as a deterrence to those who planned to attack.
“Troops have also continued to maintain security even after the New Year celebrations. One wonders why the same troops will kill anyone who is not a threat to the security of law-abiding citizens.
The military unit further vowed that the allegations will not deter its troops from performing their duties in the region.
“OPSH will continue to operate professionally within its mandate in Plateau State and across its Joint Operational Area.”