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Reps probe Benue killings, summons military chiefs



The House of Representatives has chosen to summon Gen. Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff, and Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, Chief of Army Staff, as a result of the alleged assault on House member, Kpam Sokpo on March 18 by members of the 401 Special Forces Brigade in Gboko, Benue State.

The House denounced the purported invasion of the Old Barn Hotel in Gboko and attacks on its visitors, notably Sokpo.

In the House’s plenary on Wednesday, Mark Gbillah, a Benue representative, sought to request an investigation into the attack.

Irabor and Yahaya were urged to launch “a complete investigation of the incident, ensuring evidence is acquired from civilian witnesses, with a view to identifying the soldiers who were responsible for this mayhem” by the lawmakers, who unanimously approved the resolution.

Moving the motion titled ‘Need to Investigate the Assault on Residents of Gboko and Guests of Old Barn Hotel, Gboko by Men of the 401 Special Forces Brigade of the Nigerian Army,’ Gbillah cited Section 217(2) (a)-(d) of the 1999 Constitution as prescribing the primary duties of the Nigerian Army.

Gbillah said, “The House is concerned about the worsening spate of military and police brutality, extrajudicial killings by security operatives on civilians and unarmed Nigerians.

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“The House is worried about the unfortunate incident of Saturday, 18 March, 2023, at Old Barn Hotel, Gboko, in Benue State, where at about 2:30am, men of the 401 Division of the Nigerian Army viciously assaulted and brutalised several persons and guests.

“The House is also concerned that these military men, numbering over 20, stormed the hotel in Nigerian Army trucks and dressed in military uniforms but without any identifiers such as nametags or any form of personal identity or ranks.

“The House is disturbed that the military men ordered all persons within view to move, gather in groups and squat on the ground without explanation for such cruel and inhuman treatment.

“The House is also worried that in the course of obeying the Army officers’ commands, one of the soldiers accosted the Honourable and slapped him.”

The lawmaker further alleged that about 20 soldiers pounced on Sokpo and others “with guns and brutally assaulted them, this resulted in serious injuries on his head, face, shoulders, chest, back, both arms and legs.”

Gbillah emphasized the necessity for the House to strengthen its legal obligation to uphold the security and welfare of the populace as the main goal of governance.

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