By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
The Defence Headquarters has described online news reports accusing Nigerian army of looting shops and stealing in Taraba, as outright falsehoods and misinformation.
In the report, a supposed Taraba based business man, Paul Gaza, accused troops of the Nigerian Army of burning down his secondary school, stealing the sum of N1,237,000 and three motorcycles during a mafian-style invasion in Peva, a town in the Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State.
Gaza, said at about 3am on Friday, July 17, soldiers arrived at his house in three Toyota Hilux vans and asked to see him. “But upon being told by Gaza’s salespersons he was on a trip, the military officers went berserk and started to destroy everything in his house. The soldiers beat them (salespersons) up mercilessly, destroyed my personal belongings, and packed my documents and other valuables”.
But the Defence Headquarters in a statement issued on Monday, by Major General, John Enenche, Coordinator
Defence Media Operations, said the story was a misinformation and outright falsehood being peddled by this so-called “businessman.”
“For the records, following credible intelligence on the possible hideout of wanted Benue militia leader Terwase Akwaza aka “Gana” around the general area of Tse-Audu village in Akate council ward of Donga Local Government of Taraba State, troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, drawn from Sector 2 at Gbise and Zaki Biam in Benue in conjunction with troops of sector 4 deployed at Kofa Ahmadu, Kasuwan Haske, Kashiimbala and Akate in Taraba state at about 0300 hrs on 18 July 2020 conducted a dawn raid at an identified hideout in Tse-Audu village.
“However, the hideout was deserted as the bandits fled before troops’ arrival. Troops combed the hideout and recovered one locally made rifle, 2 camouflage uniforms, one dog-tag and some substances suspected to be Indian hemp as well as charms. The hideout was then destroyed. Subsequently, troops proceeded to Chachanji village where a school, shop and building belonging to same militia leader “Gana” were identified and searched. The search yielded rewards as troops discovered one locally made mortar tube, one locally made rifle and 13 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. The buildings were subsequently destroyed to deny Gana and his cohorts the use of the facilities to advance their criminal activities.
“For all intents and purposes, it is instructive to note that military operations are always conducted sequel to credible and actionable intelligence from both technical and human sources. As such, troops would never target legitimate businesses or business owners. The military wishes to state that the targeted structures indeed belong to the notorious “Gana” and not Mr Gaza as being falsely peddled. After all, one wonders why Mr Gaza has refused to make himself available to military authorities or report to Nigeria Police, since the incident on the 18th of July this year, despite his strong claims of innocence in this matter.”
DHQ further enjoins journalists in particular and media outfits in general to engage in responsible journalism by being objective and fair in observance of the ethics of the profession. “Publishing such a story without getting the military’s side of events indicates a lack of professionalism and objectivity on the part of the medium.”