Some residents of Takum and Ussa Local Government Areas as well Yanghtu Special Development area in Taraba on Friday accused the army operatives of the Exercise Ayem A Kpatuma (Cat Race) of brutality, bias and complicity in their handling of security situation in their areas.
Shiban Tikare, Chairman of Takum Local Government, who led the condemnation of the Army operation in the area told journalists that he had received series of complains from his people that soldiers were molesting and brutalizing them.
Tikari noted that the soldiers started the operation in the local government on February 15 without notifying the Council and the traditional rulers in the area, leading to a lot of confusion.
He explained that he had to report the matter to Governor Darius Ishaku before they served him notification letter on March 1 when he officially briefed his people about the operation.
According to him, the commencement of the operation had rather witnessed resumed attacks by herdsmen on some communities in Takum and it’s environs with scores killed and over 600 displaced.
“Before the coming of the operation, there were cases of kidnapping and armed robbery using police and army uniforms. So, even when the army operation started people mistaken them for kidnappers and caused a lot of anxiety and apprehension.
“I have reports that soldiers have being breaking into people’s houses at the dead of the night harassing and demanding for people, but it was in front of the army barracks that a member of the state house of Assembly, Hossa Ibi was kidnapped and killed.
“It is sad to note that the soldiers of excise cat race are harassing our people in the towns while herdsmen are attacking and killing others in the rural communities. We expect the soldiers to go into the bush and help us flush out killer herdsmen and kidnappers instead of beating up people in the town.
“The herdsmen that are coming into our community now with machine guns are not the traditional herdsmen we know and lived with over the years, I suspect they may the released Boko Haram members,” he said.
On his part, Hon. Rimamsikwe Karma, the Chairman of Ussa Local Government Council also said the operation was causing more harm than good to the people of the area.
He explained that the soldiers were searching people’s houses and seizing knives, cutlasses and harassing them while heavily armed herdsmen were burning houses and killing people in the farms and villages.
“The herdsmen that followed the army to our council are not friendly with our people, they are strange faces to us and they are killing people,” he said.
A widow, Mrs Jumai Andeyantso who was a victim of army alleged extortion told journalists that she left her house on Tuesday for burial programme only for soldiers to storm her house, harass her daughters and made away with her N150, 000.
Other stakeholders in Takum and Ussa including traditional rulers, religious leaders, youth groups and market women gave various complains of how the army had brutalised their peoples either in their homes or on the streets in the towns.
But when contacted, Commanding Officer, 93 Army Battalion Takum, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Gambari said he had no authority to speak on the issue, but summarily dismissed the allegations as false.