Army officials accused of assault in Abuja

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The Nigeria Army in Abuja have been accused of assaulting the residents of Sauka , Airport road, Abuja for resisting the demolition of their houses on Friday.

A resident, George Paul, alleged that the soldiers, who were attached to the Department of Development Control, were at the community to carry out an illegal demolition of residential houses.

He added that the residents on learning that the officials and soldiers were in the village to pull down structures, mobilised and blocked the streets to prevent them from carrying out the exercise.

According to him, in the course of the stand-off, a number of residents were assaulted including a housewife, Mrs. Ruth Zakaria, who sustained injuries.

Paul stressed that the officials were on illegal duty, noting that the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Muhammad Bello, had earlier directed that only houses built outside the perimeter fence and structures close to the road should be demolished.

He said, “The soldiers and the FCDA officials came to carry out illegal demolitions; they were selecting houses they planned to demolish.

“The initial arrangement was that they would demolish houses built outside the perimeter fence, that was what the FCT minister directed when he visited the area last Wednesday with the ministers of transport and aviation.

“But the FCDA officials and the soldiers later went into the village and demolished about 18 houses, including churches. So, we said ‘enough is enough’ and we stood up to them and prevented them from further pulling down houses.

“The soldiers fired some gunshots into the air and they beat up a Gbagi woman with wood. They injured her and we demanded that they should take her to the hospital, but the matter was later resolved.”

Ruth explained that she was attacked by the soldier for leading the women to resist the demolition of their houses.

She alleged that a soldier knocked her down with a used tyre and hit her on the hand with a plank, adding that the operative also attacked her husband.

“We saw the officials entering the village with a caterpillar and so we mobilised our men and blocked the road. I was holding leaves and saying this demolition must stop. One soldier then hit me with a tyre and I fell; he also hit me with a plank and I was injured in the hand. He also hit my husband in the leg and his back,” the housewife narrated.

Asked if the assault was reported to the police, the mother of three said it was not reported, adding that the issue was later resolved.

Her husband, Diouf, described the demolition as illegal, noting that the residents were not pre-informed about the exercise by the Federal Capital Development Authority.

He said, “They (FCDA officials) were supposed to notify us before carrying out the demolition, but there was no marking on the houses, no notification letter ; we just saw them with a caterpillar last Friday and we resisted the attempt to pull down our houses.

“The officials claimed that the demolition directive came from the minister, but we didn’t believe it because some police officers came from the Commissioner of Police over the issue and they asked the FCT officials why they did not inform the police about the demolition exercise, but they could not answer.”

Diouf added, “It was like a war; They beat our women and injured about four of them. My wife’s injuries was serious, she was admitted to a hospital.”

Source: ( Punch Newspaper

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