An unarmed civilian helping to clear the traffic gridlock that ensued on Makurdi Abuja highway following a protest by Yelewata youth was allegedly shot and killed by a soldier in the presence of a high-ranking Benue State government official on Saturday afternoon.
Franc Utoo, the Senior Special Assistant to Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on project implementation, was sent to Yelewata village by the Governor to calm the youth, who were angry over an attack by persons suspected to be criminal Fulani Herdsmen, which left two persons dead. Their corpses were displayed on the highway.
“…The Governor directed me to leave for my village of Yelewata immediately to help calm down frayed nerves of the irate youths who blocked the highway for over four hours as a result of the killing of two brothers who were working on their farms this morning by marauding herdsmen,” Utoo wrote on his verified social media page.
At the community, Utoo met with soldiers from Operation Whirlstroke and the Police and addressed the youth, assuring them of the governor’s resolve to strengthen security in the area.
“When they finally heeded to my advice to remove the dead bodies from the road and clear the highway, I took the parents of the deceased brothers to my father’s house to console them and offer them some support, along with 90% of the youth,” he stated.
“The 10% remained on the road to control the traffic on the heavily congested road where many drivers were shunting to overtake other cars. The unruliness which followed that process led to one of the soldiers from the Special Forces led by one Musa Usman (I can’t ascertain his rank, because he wore a sweater over his uniform) to shoot and instantly kill one of the unarmed protesting youth. Just like that?”
A resident who did not want to be named confirmed Utoo’s narration of events to FIJ, saying the soldier killed the young man without provocation.
“Soldiers are everywhere in Benue; they are here and are supposed to protect the civilians but nobody understands what they are doing. Even the areas where the soldiers are present, the herdsmen still come and kill people and go freely; soldiers have never arrested anyone or shot at them,” the resident said.
But the Nigerian Army Spokesperson, General Mohammed Yerima, told FIJ that he was not aware but if found true, the soldier would be tried in a military court.
“There are processes we have to go through before it gets to my desk,’ he said. “But I don’t think a soldier will just like that release because he is trigger happy, haba!”
Similarly, the Benue Police spokesperson, DSP Anene Catherine, said she was not aware but even if it happened, it would have been reported to the military.
But Utoo insisted it happen. “This happened before my eyes… the Army in brazen act of unprofessional conduct, shot and killed one protester. What the heck is happening in this country?” he asked.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.