by Success Nwogu, Ilorin
Residents of Okene in Kogi State on Sunday alleged that soldiers deployed to maintain peace, law and order in the area were brutalising them.
They also alleged that some of them had been maimed and some of their belongings destroyed by the soldiers.
Some of the complainants said they came out for their legitimate businesses in compliance with directives from security agents that they should go about their normal businesses without fear, but were surprised when some of the soldiers allegedly shot at them and destroyed their goods.
One of them who did not want to be named said, “Some of us have been victims of brutality from some of the soldiers sent here by the Federal Government and the Army high command to protect us.
“We came out for our legitimate socio-economic activities only for us to be attacked by some soldiers that shot sporadically, injured some and destroyed some of our belongings including our goods.”
But the Commandant, Command Army Record Lokoja, Major General Alphonsus Chukwu, on Sunday denied the allegations.
He, however said he would visit the area to ascertain the true state of things.
“I will be at Okene tomorrow (Monday) to verify some of these allegations, but the commanders on the ground assured me that there was nothing like that,” Chukwu said.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Kogi State, Mr. Muhammed Katsina, on Sunday said 16 suspects had been arrested over the Okenne shootings.
Katsina spoke in Lokoja through the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ile Simon.
He, however, said the police did not arrest any federal or state lawmaker from Kogi Central in connection with the killings in Okene.
Katsina stated that the command had started screening the arrested suspects.
He assured that at the end of the screening, the innocent ones would regain their freedom.
A source, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said a Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor, was among those undergoing security screening in connection with the Okene crisis.
The source said the special adviser, who is a former chairman in one of the local governments, in the state and who is currently in the police custody for investigation, was neither shot on the leg nor manhandled by the Police.
But Simon, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Sunday, said he could not confirm the arrest of the governor’s aide.
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