From Rose Ejembi Makurdi
The Military has raided and destroyed hideouts of criminals who attacked troops around Bonta village and adjourning communities in Konshisha Local Government area of Benue State yesterday.
The troops were said to have also neutralized 12 armed bandits who were part of the gang that carried out the attack on the soldiers.
Bonta Community of Konshisha Local government area had been at daggers drawn with Ukpute-Ainu community of Oju Local government area over land, a development which made government to draft military troops to patrol the area to keep peace.
It would be recalled however, that on Monday evening, troops deployed to maintain peace between the two warring communities were on patrol around Bonta Village when they were reportedly ambushed by the ‘Bonta Boys’.
By the time the dust settled, it was gathered that the Bonta Boys’ allegedly seized some of the soldiers on the grounds that they (soldiers) destroyed their illegal roadblocks.
Sources from the area who spoke with Journalists on the condition of anonymity disclosed that the boys actually killed all the missing soldiers, a development which made the military to storm the community in search of the dead bodies of their colleagues.
It was further gathered that the military who stormed the village with helicopters and with the support of land troops had destroyed all houses and property suspected to be housing armed bandits in the area during which several arms were also said to have been recovered.
At the time of filing this report, residents of Bonta Village and environs have all deserted their villages and are currently taking refuge at Tse-Agbaragba, headquarters of Konshisha Local Government area.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene said she was not aware of any such raid by the military in Konshisha Local Government area.
Efforts to speak with Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini failed as all his lines were switched off at the time of this report.
Meanwhile, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has promised that his administration would do everything under the law to ensure that peace returns to warring communities of Konshisha and Oju Local Government Areas.
Governor Ortom gave the assurance on Wednesday while briefing journalists after an expanded Security Council meeting with stakeholders from the two local government areas.
While stressing the need for Benue people to support security agents deployed to end crisis in their areas, the Governor warned the people against attacks on security agents, saying such acts would make the situation extremely difficult to contain.
Ortom recalled that as part of measures to nip the land dispute between Konshisha and Oju in the bud, it was agreed at a recent state security meeting that the boundary be demarcated and a day was fixed for the exercise.
The Governor sadly that a few days to the agreed date, crisis erupted again and security agents were deployed to control its escalation when the troops sent to Konshisha came under attack with two military personnel still missing.
He condemned the practice of some communities engaging militia to fight their neighbours, stressing that such merchants of violence would be made to face consequences of their actions.
The Governor therefore, called on stakeholders from the two local government areas to preach peace to their people and avoid the temptation of taking laws into their hands.