Residents of Akperhe Olomu community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State have accused members of the “Operation Crocodile Smile” of human rights abuse while carrying out their duties.
The people particularly singled out the case of a septuagenarian, Mrs. Amrevweatefa Odada and three others who are now in the custody of the 3 Battalion, Effurun Barracks in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state.
Mrs Odada and the three were arrested from their home on August 31.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman, had in a statement, said that the arrested persons were being interrogated over a wanted relative, Gabriel Ogbudje, who is still at large.
But the community had insisted that the arrest was uncalled for and that the suspects were being held for too long.
Sunday Okoyoyo, spokesman for Akperhe said: “This is impunity and lawlessness at play. How lawful is it for the army to arrest and detain a septuagenarian mother of a wanted person, alleged to be a militant.
“How lawful is it to arrest his extended family members, handcuffed and paraded as suspects?
“They have been looking for Tompolo for months to no avail, but they have never raided his extended family compound to arrest and detain his father, mother or siblings for questioning in absence of Tompolo.
“Why would they now arrest an over 70 years old Akperhe woman and others in a location far from where their target resides?
“Even after arresting them, why keep them in detention indefinitely? We demand her immediate release and the three others arrested with her.
“Their continued detention is unlawful and a violation of their human rights.”
The mother of one of the arrested suspects, Koko Patani, said: “My son, Henry, is not a militant; he stays with me, he only goes to his father’s house to sleep at night. My son is innocent and I want him released.
“It is so sad because I am a widow and I don’t even know where and how to go about seeking his release.
“I don’t know who to approach to help me. They should bring back my son,” she pleaded.
Onesan Ekeke, mother of another suspec,s Vincent, tearfully, defended her son’s innocence.
“My son stays in faraway Auchi in Edo State. He came to the village on Friday for a burial.
“He was supposed to travel back with his boss the Thursday he was arrested.
“Someone told me he was arrested by soldiers. My son is not a criminal or a militant, I want him released.