Catherine Akure, a teacher resident in Benue, has accused soldiers attached to the 72nd Brigade in Makurdi, Benue State, of killing Terfa Akure, her husband.
Catherine told FIJ that on January 16, she got a call that soldiers had killed her husband and dumped his corpse in an uncultivated area close to his work place.
On getting to where his corpse was, she said, her husband’s junior colleagues and some eyewitnesses gave her similar accounts of what had happened.
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FIJ learned that on January 15, some soldiers from the 72nd Brigade met Terfa and his colleagues, who are staff of the Benue State Inland Revenue Service (BIRS), at the North Bank Tax Collection Point to demand some money. According to her, this illegal habit had become the norm. When the men said they did not have money to give, the soldiers became aggressive.
“But on that day, they said they had no money as they had just resumed their duty, and the soldiers left. Suddenly, they returned enraged, ready to beat my husband and his boys. One of his boys suggested they all run away as the soldiers approached, but he said he would not, as he was not a criminal,” Catherine told FIJ.
“When the soldiers got to their post, he stood to talk to them, but they would not hear from him. They used the bench he had sat on to beat him. Using logs of wood, they beat him till he fell down. Then they took him in their van to an unknown location. He shouted for help, but no one came through.”
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After the soldiers left, said Catherine, his colleagues looked for him around the area, even going to Nyiman Park, hoping they would see him. Later, they called him, but from his response they knew the soldiers were maltreating him.
“He did not pick up when they called him at first. But when he did, he shouted for help. They told me he screamed ‘help me’ many times, saying they were killing him,” she said.
At 6 am the following morning, she said, some youths at AperAku Housing Estate called some of her husband’s colleagues to inform them an army patrol van was in the North Bank Collection Point around 5 am and dropped a corpse in the uncultivated area close to where they worked.
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According to Catherine, Terfa’s colleagues found his corpse where the caller described. His new phone, a Tecno Spark 7, was not on him. His money was not in his pockets; only the BIRS PoS and his small phone were left on him, she claimed.
Catherine said a journalist visited the army barracks to enquire about what happened, but the authorities claimed that the news he heard was a hoax. She also said that they denied knowing her husband.
“But the night the boys looked for him, they went to the 72 Brigade barracks and asked about that van. The security man at the gate said the van had gone on patrol and had not yet returned,” she told FIJ.
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After the case was reported to C Division Police Station in the area, police officers came to carry his remains to the mortuary. Till now, Terfa’s corpse is in the mortuary of a general hospital in Benue. Catherine is waiting for the hospital to conduct an autopsy on him.
“We have three children together, and we stay with his mother. Terfa Akure turned 40 on January 14, and they killed him on January 15 just because he told them he had no money. I believe they put his corpse on the road so it would appear like an accident,” she said.
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FIJ contacted Onyema Nwachukwu, the Nigerian Army spokesperson, but he did not answer his calls. At press time, he had not responded to the text message sent to him.
Meanwhile, Kurugh Ukan, a Nigerian human rights activist, posted on Facebook that “all circumstantial evidence show that 72 Brigade soldiers killed Terfa” and that they “cannot claim to be ignorant”.
Contained in his post are two eyewitness accounts similar to what Terfa’s wife told FIJ. According to the post, the soldiers beat Terfa, took him away, and brought his corpse the following morning.
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