Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Residents of Kona villages have condemned the arrest and alleged torture of Kona youths by men of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies in the wake of attacks on their villages by armed herdsmen in Taraba State.
A resident, Mr Yakubu Namzing, who spoke to Saturday Sun, said that it was inhuman for security personnel to arrest and harass the youths of the areas that were under attack while the attackers had a field day and none of them have been arrested.
“I really don’t understand the justification for the arrest and torture of our youths by military men, when our village was under attack. It is even more appalling that none of the attackers has been arrested or killed. So, the question is when are they not going after the attackers instead of arresting the youths that are already under attack?,” the distraught resident asked.
“I refuse to join people who say that the army is colluding with criminal elements to sack villages, but this current incident has really given me cause for worry.”
Earlier, women numbering close to a thousand took to the streets to protest the arrest and harassment of their children by soldiers sent to end the onslaught of armed herdsmen in Kona villages around Jalingo metropolis.
An opinion leader in Kona, Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Kamai, has however dismissed allegations that the military is shielding the invaders.
In a phone interview with Saturday Sun, Kamai said that he was prompted by the protest of the women to confront the military personnel deployed to the crisis area over the arrest of some Kona youths.
“I was worried when I saw our women in their numbers trooping out in protest against the unprovoked attacks on our villages and the role of the military in the attacks. It was worrisome to know that only our youths were being arrested, while the invaders continued to attack and kill people with impunity.
“However, they explained to me that they cannot confront the enemy when our youths were making their work so difficult by going to their front. From what they said, it will not be possible for them to identify who is whom in such a situation; so, it was best for our boys to stay back and allow them (the military) to face the invaders. Moreso, you cannot rule out the possibility of some criminal elements taking advantage of this situation to carry out criminal activities,” Fr. Kamai said.
A total of 21 suspects have been arrested in connection with the herdsmen attacks on Kona villages.
According to the Commanding Officer, 20 Model Battalion Serti, Taraba State, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Adamu, the suspects were arrested in Tudiri village with several dangerous weapons, following a tip off.
Adamu said the “abolition of unlawful possession of firearms was still in place and the army will continue to ensure that people are not allowed to carry illegal arms under any circumstances,” while assuring that “the suspects would be handed over to the police on completion of investigations.”