Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has called for restraint on all sides including the military following the crisis between communities in Konshisha and Oju local government areas resulting in the current military operation in some communities.
This is as the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Friday, refuted allegations of civilian massacre at Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State by troops of Operation Whirl Stroke operating in the area.
This was clarified via a statement issued by Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, who said some locals killed 11 soldiers in cold blood as they approached the area to quell a communal clash, burning their bodies beyond recognition.
“The attention of the Defence Headquarters is drawn to numerous publications in the media and other online blogs reporting massive killing and destruction of houses and other property by the military in Konshisha LGA of Benue State.
“The Defence Headquarters which has oversight responsibility for Operation Whirl Stroke deployed to maintain peace in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, has deemed it necessary to refute these spurious allegations and put the records straight,” he said.
“The military will not tolerate the jungle justice attitude and dastardly acts leading to the gruesome murder of patriotic soldiers on legitimate duty to keep the peace”, it said.
The statement expressed the readiness of the military to work with the Benue State government in its promise to support security forces in fishing out those fomenting trouble in Konshisha.
“Once again, there is no massacre in Konshisha and the stories making the rounds are fabricated by bandits and their sponsors to smear the military after murdering troops in cold blood”, it said.
Meanwhile, Ortom directed leaders of the affected areas to ensure that the weapons the bandits took away from the military personnel deployed to bring peace between the warring communities were returned without delay.
“I further urge members of those communities to expose perpetrators of the unprovoked attacks on the military as such an act is condemnable and also capable of jeopardising the efforts Government has made to guarantee the return of peace to the area”.
“You will recall that in an effort to find a solution to the crisis, I set up a Boundary Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Engineer Benson Abounu to resolve the land dispute in collaboration with the National Boundary Commission,” he said.
He reiterated that his administration was determined to see the end of the crisis and would support security agencies to fish out those responsible for the crime.