From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The people of Ajakpa community in Ese Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State have raised the alarm over the alleged invasion of the town by soldiers.
They, therefore, called on the state government to prevail on the military for peace to return in the town.
The military operation in the community, Daily Sun gathered, was occasioned by the attack and killing of some soldiers by a militant group, led by Ossy Ibori, who was also recently killed during a shoot-out with the military.
Addressing journalists in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday, a community leader, Mr. Tony Ebitibituwa, who led some members of the community to the state government, condemned the attack on the military by the militants.
According to him, “the Ajakpa community condemn in its entirety the attack and killing of military men by Ossy Ibori and his gang.
“The community does not, in any way, support and will not support the action of Ibori in any manner.”
Ebitibituwa, however, decried the burning of houses of residents of the community, many of whom are now homeless, by the military.
He said the action of the military had caused collateral damage to the entire community, as some people had fled the town, which he said was the second largest community in Arogbo Kingdom of Ondo State.
He, therefore, called on the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to intervene, as “the people of the community have been rendered homeless, just as water and food are now scarce commodities since the operation started.”
Continuing, he said: “The ongoing military action should wear a human face and the rules of engagement should be adhered to.
“The entire community has been paralysed and rendered nonfunctional due to lack of houses, water and food.”
Specifically, the community leader urged the Ondo State government to put machinery in motion to save the lives of innocent members of the community, who he said are now helpless.
According to him, “the Ondo State governor, who is the Chief Security Officer of the state ,which also includes the Ajakpa community, should act as a matter of urgency because of the humanitarian issues involved.
“The government should put in place a rescue and rehabilitation committee to save the lives of the teeming population who are now in various hideouts.
“The military should halt hostilities against the community, just as the community would, at all times, condemn the attack on soldiers by the militants.”
Responding on the matter, the Public Relations Officer of the 323 Artillery Brigade, Owena Barracks, Akure, Captain Ojo Adelegan, said the military was not involved in the burning of houses in the community: “When the militant leader, Ossy Ibori, was killed, the military issued a statement asking the people of the community to go about their normal duties. The military has not reneged on this.
“The military only went on an operation to flush out militants from the community. It is the responsibility of the military to protect life and property of the people; how will the military turn and burn houses of people?”
He said if houses were burnt in the community, “it was not done by the military, so enquiry should be made on who is responsible.”