Resident of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State, Mr. Damson Audu, has petitioned the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Turku Burutai, over the alleged ‘extra-judicial killing” of his son, Esekwe Damson, by the soldiers stationed at Katsina-Ala on December 25, 2017.
Mr. Audu, who is the father of the deceased, signed the petition on 27th December, 2017 which was made available to our correspondent on Sunday in Makurdi.
According to him, he had received a phone call from his wife, Adetsav Damson, in Katsina-Ala on Christmas Day that soldiers invaded his house located on J. S Tarka Way, Katsina-Ala, about 4:30am searching for his son whom they arrested and took away.
“They forced themselves into the house and manhandled all occupants, including my wife,” Audu alleged.
The petitioner stated that the soldiers were part of the contingent camped at Camp Bethel Resort, Katsina-Ala and near the Central Primary School, Katsina-Ala, under the command of Major Ladan.
Some local youths who are said to be members of the local vigilante group to reportedly led the soldiers to the Audu family house.
Audu added that the soldiers first took his son away and later returned to the house with the young man, with his hands tied behind his back.
They reportedly searched the premises but found nothing and again left with him.
”On the 26th December, 2017, I travelled to Katsina-Ala to follow up the matter and on my arrival, I went to the Camp Bethel Resort to check if my son was in the custody of the soldiers stationed there; but they denied knowledge of anybody by that name.’
”Despite their denials, I was reliably informed that the soldiers allegedly executed all those they arrested that night and deposited their remains at the General Hospital, Katsina-Ala mortuary.
“I then proceeded to the mortuary, where l found the corpse of my son apparently strangled to death with various torture marks on his body.
“The mortuary attendant informed me that his corpse and those of others were brought by soldiers about 9:30pm on December 25, 2017 and that they left the commander’s phone number,” Audu stated.
He called on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Turku Burutai, to order an investigation into the matter so as to bring to justice all those who had a hand in the murder of his son, saying his son must not die in vain.
Audu lamented that the execution of his son by soldiers under the authority of Gen. Burutai for whatever reason amounted to unlawful killing and violates his son’s constitutional right to life.
The Assistant Director Army Public Relations 707 Special Forces Brigade, Nigerian Army, Makurdi, Major Ayeni Olabisi Olanikon, when contacted, denied the allegation, saying the soldiers did not carry out such unlawful act.
He said that at no time did the troops engage in extra-judicial killing of Esekwe Damson as alleged.
”Our troops did not arrest, torture or kill anybody as alleged,” Ayeni stated.
Major Ayeni explained that the angry mob in the area arrested some armed robbers who had been terrorising the area and beat them to a point of coma before bringing them to the military location.
”In order to save their lives, our medical personnel administered first aid to stabilise them.
“Five of them — including Esekwe Damson — later died while they were being taken to the hospital in an emergency.
“It was not the soldiers that arrested them at the point of robbery or beat them to a coma. Rather, they were already beaten to a coma before they were brought before the soldiers by the vigilantes,” Army PRO stated.
But the State Command Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Moses Yamu, said he was yet to get the report from Katsina-Ala.
Corroborating the Army statement, the special adviser to executive chairman of Katsina-Ala LGA, Mr. Ben Ukeji, said the soldiers were not responsible for the killing of Esekwe.
Mr. Ukeji said: ”it is not far from the truth what the Army PRO told you. The boy was arrested by the local vigilantes with others, the soldiers didn’t kill him.
“There was a mob who gathered where they were arrested and as such, anything can happen,” he stated.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper)