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Tiv professionals seek removal of Operation Whirl Stroke Commander, Yekini

By Sunday Iduh

The Tiv Professionals Group (TPG) has called for the immediate removal of the Commanding Officer of Operation Whirl Stroke in Benue State, Major General Adeyemi Yekini from office for incompetence, complicity and crimes against the Tiv people of Konshisha and Gwer-East Local Government Areas.

They also called on the military who have forcefully commandeered St Lucy’s Catholic Church, Awajir as their operational camp to leave the church as further stay there will amount to desecration and to halt all illicit hostilities on the peaceful and unarmed communities of Konshisha and Gwer-East Local Government Areas.

The Chairman of TPG, Professor Zacharys Gundu stated this on behalf of the group in a chat with journalists in Makurdi, while reacting to the “ongoing crimes against humanity by the Nigerian military in their invasion, leveling down of communities and villages, mass murder of unarmed people mostly women, children and the elderly, mass displacement of whole settlement and destruction of economic livelihoods of the Tiv people of Shangev-Tiev in Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State”

The group noted the perennial communal crisis between people of Mbator in Shangev-Tiev of Konshisha Local Area and those of Okpute of Oju Local Government Area.

They disclosed that several attempts by stakeholders from both sides to restore peace to the area have been made in the past without success and the crisis resurfaced again recently.

“However, in a sudden twist of events, it was reported that the Nigerian Military were deployed to the crisis area. The involvement of the Nigerian Military immediately escalated the crisis into wide scale attacks, arson, wanton destruction of property, raping of women and girls, which, allegedly culminated into the missing of some members of the Nigerian Military.

“It is important to note that the reprisal attacks by the Nigerian military in Konshisha has the potential of escalating and aggravating the already complicated insecurity in Benue State. So far the destruction has affected several communities in Konshisha and Gwer-East Local Government Areas,” he stated.

They called on the Nigerian state and the whole world to note that what the Nigerian military did by bringing helicopter gunships to shell unarmed civilians, strafing of villages and leveling down entire settlements is known in international human rights as collective punishment

“This is a war crime which cannot be allowed for whatever reasons. We are aware of many other instances where Nigerian soldiers have been killed without this type of irresponsible retributive action by the military

“Even in times of war and armed conflict, collective punishment has resulted in atrocities, and is a violation of the laws of a just war and the Geneva Conventions.

“The international community and other good people of Nigeria are invited to note that while the President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces has thought it fit to deploy Special Forces to the forests of Borno, Zamfara, Yobe and recently Nassarawa States to carry out proper intelligence gathering with the aim to quell the intransigent insurgency, he has chosen in the case of Benue to deploy the Nigerian military to execute indiscriminate strafing, killings and leveling down of entire communities.

“Is it because this time around it is about and against the Tiv people, who have been a target of his administration from its inception,” the group stated.

The group which is an umbrella body of Tiv scholars within Nigeria and in diaspora said, “as law abiding citizens, we shall continue to appeal to the victims of these attacks to tow the line of Governor Samuel Ortom who continues to plead that no one should take the law in their hands.”

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