Obayantor Community of Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State has been thrown into panic after seven persons including a soldier reportedly died as a result of clash between rival youth groups in the community over leadership, Punch reports.
Although the military has denied the death of any of its personnel, it was gathered that there was a clash that led to the deaths when a faction of the youth leadership in the community purportedly led soldiers into the community to comb it over alleged possession of firearms by a rival group and in the process, a soldier was reportedly killed and a reprisal attack left six people dead.
An eyewitness, who didn’t want his name mentioned, said the incident happened on Saturday night and that his 80-year-old mother-in-law had to trek through the bush for hours before she was rescued and taken to him in Benin City.
“As I am talking to you, she is with me in Benin City and we have to arrange for somebody to go and massage her because she trekked through the bush before she got to me. She said they don’t even know what happened but that on Saturday night they started hearing gunshots everywhere in the community and they just started running into the bushes,” he said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Bello Kontongs said, “It was a military operation so I don’t have any information on that. But once I have, I will let you know.”
But the Nigerian Army 4 Brigade, Benin on Monday said that the Brigade never carried out a reprisal attack in the community, rather it said that the brigade only carried out operations in the community based on intelligence from the Department of State Service.
The Brigade’s Public Relations Officer, Yemi Sokoya said that against some reports making the rounds, soldiers were not in the community to carry out a reprisal attack, adding that the personnel of the brigade were guided by rules of engagement and code of conduct for internal security.
He stated that the brigade got a report from the DSS about hoodlums disturbing the community, and stockpile of weapons.
“We found out that it was true, because as soon as we got there, some of the hoodlums engaged the troop in gun duel.
“However, even if there was a communal issue before now, with what is happening in the country today, if you are a commander and you are told people are stockpiling weapons somewhere, you will go there and ensure that those weapons are seized and those involved arrested. I think that is the right thing to do and that is exactly what the commander did.
“The issue of communal crisis is not part of why we went there. It was basically on a report that hoodlums in that community are stockpiling weapons and terrorising the community,” he added.
He disclosed that in the course of the operations, some weapons which include two AK-47 rifles, three English pump action guns, one double barrel, 32 cartridges, five mobile phones and an ID card belonging to the state vigilante were recovered.