Tension yesterday gripped Maiduguri as Nigerian soldiers killed five vigilante youths in a shootout in the capital of Borno State. The fatal shootings reportedly happened after the vigilantes demanded to check a lorry in which the soldiers were conveying arms to their barracks.
An angry member of the vigilante group told our correspondent that the conflict started when some of their members stopped a convoy of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army with headquarters in Maiduguri. The soldiers were reportedly escorting ammunition in a private commercial trailer.
“We were asked to block most of the major roads within the town as a security precaution against any attack that might be planned during the visit of the APC presidential candidate, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari,” the vigilante worker told our correspondent. Mr. Buhari had campaigned in Maiduguri yesterday. The source added, “Five of our members were shot dead and several others received serious injuries. This is not acceptable that soldiers should kill our members. After all, we are all working to safeguard the lives of citizenry.”
Our source said the soldiers had refused the vigilantes’ demand to inspect a trailer that was carrying weapons. Then the soldiers shot when some of the vigilante youths climbed the vehicle to check its freight.
A senior military officer in Maiduguri said he had yet to be briefed on what happened, but promised that an investigation was underway. He added that any soldiers found to have wrongfully shot civilians would be punished.
According to the security source, the military had contracted a trailer to transport some ammunition when the initial army vehicle ferrying the weapon developed a mechanical on the road.