By Deborah Coker
The 4 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Benin, has denied killing any vigilante member or freeing any suspected herdsmen in Edo.
Capt Mohammed Maidawa, Assistant Director Army Public Relations, made this known in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Benin, on Saturday.
According to Maidawa, the attention of the Headquarters 4 Brigade Nigerian Army had been drawn to a malicious story going round mainstream and Social Media alleging that soldiers killed a vigilante and released suspected herdsmen.
He explained that ordinarily, one would have dismissed without responding, but for the ethnic undertone attached to the alleged false story.
“We wish to state that the story is not correct as no suspected detained herdsman was set free as being reported in the media.
“Therefore, it is important to put the record straight.
“In the early hours of Feb.14 our soldiers deployed at Ologbo for pipelines protection received a tip off from locals of a robbery incidence.
“Acting on the information, our troops swiftly moved to the area and sighted armed men.
“Our troops fired a warning shot and the armed men responded with gunshots, the soldiers returned fire towards same direction of fire.
“However, on reaching the scene, they discovered a dead body alongside cartridges and a cutlass.
“The body was taken to the nearest police station and was later identified as a vigilante member.
Maidawa said that it was unclear whether it was the vigilantes that were reported to be the armed robbers or they were called for the same purpose of checkmating the reported armed robbery activity.
According to Maidawa, an investigation is ongoing to unravel the truth.
He further said that the Brigade and the Army in general commiserate with the family of the deceased.
He called on well meaning Nigerians not to believe the erroneous story that the vigilante was deliberately killed or an imaginary herdsman released.
“We also call on media and all well meaning Nigerians to always reflect the true account of what transpired instead of rushing to post.
“The Nigerian Army is a professional organisation that will continue to maintain its neutrality in the conduct of internal security in aid to civil authorities,’’ the spokesman further said.