From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), yesterday, condemned the reaction of the army to the killing of 12 soldiers allegedly by bandits early this month, in Koshinsha Local Government Area of Benue State.
ACF, while condemning the killing of the soldiers, however, flayed the reaction of the army in killing innocent villagers in retaliation, adding that it amounted to “killing a fly with a sledge hammer.”
National Chairman of the forum, Chief Audu Ogbe, who stated this in a statement, yesterday, said “punishing poor, innocent people who have nothing to do with the killings of soldiers in Konshisha is unfair and not the best way to go.”
He called for restraint on both sides in the crisis, to prevent the shedding of more innocent blood.
Said Ogbe: “There was no need killing members of the Nigerian army who were merely on a mission to keep the peace. As dastardly as the actions of the bandits is, we find the reaction of the army out of proportion.
“A petition signed by Gabriel Suswam, who represents the area in the Senate to the Army Headquarters, says the army is on a revenge mission in which villagers, whose homes are far away from the troubled area in Konshisha Local Government, are being bombed with helicopter gunboats. We believe that as wrong and criminal as the actions of the bandits are, the army should not use a sledgehammer to kill a fly. We call on the security agents and community leaders and the state government to fish out the criminals and punish them.”
Meanwhile, the ACF has expressed satisfaction with the Zamfara State government for exposing security men who were assisting bandits in the State.
National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, in a statement, said: “We are happy that the State Governor, Bello Matawalle, has authorised the exposure of yet another round of soldiers who have been supplying arms and ammunition to bandits.
“The criminals have used these arms to make sure that the law abiding people of Zamfara and Nigeria know no peace.
“We have in the past told the governor to go ahead and expose those involved in the conspiratorial acts and let the heavens fall.
“Now that seven of them are exposed and arrested, the ACF joins all patriots in hailing the governor and calls on all other Nigerians with information on these evil men to expose them, so that Nigeria will experience peace and economic progress.”