Fred Itua, Abuja
The leaders of four villages of Ugwuaji Awkunanaw in Enugu State, namely Umunnugwu, Ndiaga, Isiagu, and Umunnajingene of Enugu South Local Government Area, have cried out over the continuous harassment of villagers by soldiers attached to 103 Battalion of Nigerian Army Gariki.
In a letter addressed to the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and dated 3rd of August, 2020, the leaders called for a discreet investigation into the continuous harassment and other alleged illegal activities of soldiers.
In the petition, they said soldiers were providing cover to a top government official involved in the alleged balkanization and forceful take over of their ancestral land.
He said the soldiers stationed there and working for the government official, beat up, harass and molest their people who attempt to venture into the disputed areas for farming and other purposes.
Lawyer to the aggrieved community leaders, OP Okonkwo, who wrote the petition on behalf of Coalition of Ugwuaji Progressives, urged the Nigerian Army high command to act and bring an end to the harassment.
He wrote: ‘In the final analysis, we are now constrained to bring the above illegal act of your men of l03 Battalion to your notice and therefore urge upon you for a discreet investigation of our complaints and then direct immediate withdrawal of the Military men/soldiers that are conniving with the Commissioner for Housing in their illegal encroachment on our Clients’ land and as well trying to disposes our clients off their land, knowing fully well that Soldiers are not meant to dabble and or meddle into land matters that is meant for the court to determine.
‘This act of your men of 103 Battalion is antithetical to the functions of the Military as enshrined in the enabling law that created Nigerian Army. It should also be noted that our clients and the Commissioner for Housing are meant to be given equal protection by your men on duty which they have abdicated but rather chose to take the side of the said Commissioner for Housing.
‘The recent illegal operations of your men of 103 Battalion had continued for sometimes now and they normally come under the guise of providing security to the land, while in actual fact they were stationed there for our clients and his workers to come to the land so that they will be beaten up mercilessly, while the said Commissioner for Housing and others are demolishing our clients’ and their tenants houses and fence wall on our client’s land.’