Military/civilians clash in Niger: Commission asks military to produce key witnesses

The Commission of Inquiry investigating the immediate and remote causes of the clash between villagers in some communities in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State and the personnel of the 31st field Artillery Brigade Command of the Nigerian Army, Minna, has ordered for the appearance of the two soldiers who were mentioned as key witnesses in the case.

Names of one Captain Odey and Private Samuel Viwapono kept coming up during the testimonies of various witnesses at the commission’s sittings.

The military authority said Captain Odey was indisposed as he was said to be writing a promotional examination, while Private Samuel Viwapono was said to have been injured during the bloody clash and receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.

An audio recording of interview of Private Samuel by the police who rescued him during the operation was aired in one of the sittings of the commission.

In the recording, he alleged that the military operation was as a result of a tip-off by a particular herder who alleged the presence of arms in some houses in the affected communities.

At the event heralding the end of the commission’s sitting on Thursday in Minna, the commission’s chairman Justice Mohammed Mohammed, said the testimonies of the two military personnel were central to the commission’s final report.

He called on the military to facilitate the appearance of the men to give evidence either in public or private as the commission winds up its operation.

According to him, “I have carefully listened to all your submissions and will like to listen to the two soldiers either in public or private before we submit our report to the Niger state government,” he said.

The commission’s lawyer, Yunusa Ustaz Usman, also said the words of the two witnesses might be good material to the commission and urged the military to provide adequate address of the hospital the injured soldier was undergoing treatment.