Military/communities’ clash: Audio tape contradicts military account of operation

An audio tape that  recorded the conversation between an injured soldier and the police on the reason behind the  operation in some communities in Bosso Local Government  Area,  Niger State, recently, has contradicted the military account at the ongoing siting of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry,  inaugurated by the Niger State government to look into the immediate  and  remote causes of the crisis.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 31 Field  Artillery, Brigade, Nigerian Army,  Minna, Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju  Jimoh, had, in his testimony last week, said that the information that the villagers stockpiled arm and ammunition was received at one of the security meetings held at the Government House, Minna.

But the audio tape tendered by the member representing Bosso constituency in the state House of Assembly, Honourable Abdulmalik Madaki Bosso, played at the sitting, on Monday, claimed  that the information on arm which led to the military  operation, was provided by a Fulani man.

The recording was an interview of one of the soldiers identified as PTE Samuel Viwaponu of the 31 Artillery Brigade, Minna, who was injured during the operation and rescued by the police at Maikukele divisional headquarters, under the Niger State Police Command.

The non-commissioned officer, Private Samuel, also claimed in the audio statement that 35 soldiers were sent on the operation, adding that they were led by a captain while  debunking the evidence of the Nigerian Army that 59 soldiers were sent for the operation.

Also testifying before the commission on Monday, the Divisional Crime Officer(DCO) of the police station, ASP Emmanual Otompa, confirmed that the police picked Private Samuel from the scene of the incident to  the police station

“The soldier told us that they were stationed at Zungeru and led by one Captain Obed to the communities after a Fulani man told them that the villages were hiding arm”.

He said that the statement of the injured soldier was recorded in English language and read to him before he was taken to hospital for medical treatment .

Otompa,  said that the statement had been forwarded to the state Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department ,Minna,  in a case file on the orders of his superior officers.

Also testifying before the commission, Honourable  Abdulmalik Madaki Bosso, said that the military executed two villagers in extra-judicial killings two days after the   clash, in Kpakungu community,  an outskirts  of Minna town