Six people were killed after soldiers in pursuit of Boko Haram insurgents attacked and completely razed Mundu village in Bauchi State, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
In an attack that lasted two days, the soldier arrived the village, situated within the Lame-Burra forest reserve, on Saturday, December 6 in a convoy of about 20 vehicles, killed anyone in sight and burnt down the community.
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter, who visited the village days after the attack, saw burnt homes, shops, grain silos and other structures belonging to the villagers.
The remains of those killed had been buried, villagers said.
Residents, most of whom are now taking refugee in neighbouring villages, told our reporter that villagers initially fled when a military helicopter was seen hovering over the village few hours before the attack.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the soldiers burnt the first half of the village on Saturday before they returned the next day to raze what was left of the settlement.
Villagers, who returned on Monday to scavenge whatever was left of their belongings, told this newspaper that they found the bodies of six people.
Among them were two mentally challenged people, a blind man and two strangers passing by in a motorcycle at the time of the operation.
The burning of Mundu is yet another episode in the long history of extra-judicial killings and torture of civilians by the military.
Allegations of widespread torture and killings against the military has gotten worse since the declaration of a State of Emergency following its war against Boko Haram insurgents in the North East.
Last August, global human rights organisation, Amnesty International, published a gruesome video of soldiers beheading men suspected to be captured Boko Haram fighters.
A report by the same organisation, released in September, revealed that thousands of Nigerians are illegally detained, tortured and some killed in various detention centres operated by security forces.
Unfortunately, despite overwhelming evidence of extra-judicial killings and human rights violations, the military is yet to bring anyone to book for the crime.
Nigerian military authorities are in the habit of exonerating accused soldiers before promising to investigate the allegations. A promise they hardly honour.
Following the destruction of Mundu, inhabitants of neighbouring villages told our reporter that they now live in constant fear as the military may decide to attack their homes next.
The Nigerian military wouldn’t comment for this story.
A Captain Olukoya, the spokesperson of the 33 Artillery Brigade, whose personnel allegedly carried out the operation, directed all enquiries on the matter at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.
The spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, could not be reached on telephone. He is said to be travelling abroad, and is yet to respond to a text message sent to him three days ago.
The spokesperson of the Army Headquarters, Brigadier Olajide Laleye, denied the army killed army killed any civilian during the operation in the community.
“The Nigerian Army did not kill any civilian. Rather the operation in Bauchi was a bona fide one on the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in that area, and their weapons and everything they used in operations were recovered,” Mr. Layeye told PREMIUM TIMES. “No civilian was killed by the Nigerian Army.”
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect the Nigerian Army’s reaction.