From Okwe Obi, Jos
A military task force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), has denied a report linking it to the death of two youth identified as Jerry Bitrus, 28, and Joseph Davou, 32, in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State.
A media report had quoted locals accusing personnel of OPSH of complicity in the act which has drawn condemnations from citizens and politicians alike in the state.
But, OPSH Media Officer, Major Ibrahim Shittu, in a statement on Wednesday entitled: “Re: Condemnation trails killing of two youths in Riyom by gunmen”, explained that the operation would never indulge in an impious or unprofessional act capable of tarnishing the image of the military.
Major Shittu, advised the public not to take the report seriously as it was concocted to set the public, especially citizens of the state against OPSH which has worked assiduously with other stakeholders to ensure peace and security, especially during the yuletide despite several threats of attacks.
‘The attention of the Operation SAFE HAVEN (OPSH) has been drawn to a report on news medium, alleging the killing of two youths by gunmen in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State.
‘The report which claimed that more facts have emerged on how the gunmen killed the two young men on Sunday around 7:09 pm, quoted some locals accusing men of Operation Safe Haven of been responsible for the attack and killing of the victims, identified as Jerry Bitrus, 28, and Joseph Davou, 32, respectively.
‘Having gone through this report and allegations made, we wish to dissociate our men from this act in its entirety. This allegation is not only false, mischievous and baseless but also aimed at discrediting the operation.
‘These concocted lies were intended by the authors to set the public, especially citizens of the state against OPSH which has worked with other stakeholders to ensure peace and security in the state.
‘To set the records straight, we wish to state that on Sunday, January 10, 2021, the Commander Sector 6 of Riyom General Area was called by the youth leader of Ghoss to inform him that two (2) persons were shot by unknown gunmen.
‘Following the information, he swiftly mobilized his troops in conjunction with the Police Riyom Division to the scene. On their arrival, they met the two victims who were incapacitated and bleeding profusely.
‘A close examination by the team showed that one was already dead while the other one was evacuated to K Vom Christian Hospital in the company of some youths; unfortunately, he later gave up the ghost.
‘It is pertinent to state that the Riyom Police Division in the area were duly informed of the development and they recovered the corpses of the victims.
‘The Member of the Plateau State House of Assembly representing Riyom Constituency, Hon Timothy Datong, having heard of the development, called the Commander Sector 6 where the incident happened and he was briefed, accordingly.
‘It is, however, sad that some mischievous persons are accusing personnel of OPSH of the killings.
‘You will recall that based on the threats to that general area during the Yuletide season, OPSH increased its deployment which served as deterrence to those planning to attack the area.
‘Troops have also continued to maintain security even after the New Year celebrations. This was appreciated by community leaders and stakeholders.
‘One wonders why the same troops will kill anyone who is not a threat to the security of law-abiding citizens.
‘We wish to say that these baseless allegations will not deter the troops from carrying out their duties. They will continue to be diligent and professional while carrying out their assignments.
‘OPSH will continue to operate professionally within its mandate in Plateau State and across its Joint Operational Area.
‘Members of the general public are, therefore, advised to discountenance the false and baseless allegations in its entirety,’ he said.