Kaduna — The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has condemned the killing of soldiers in Benue State and the alleged revenge mission by the Nigeria Army on communities in Konshisha Local Government Area of the state.
The forum also commended the Zamfara State government for exposing the security men who were assisting bandits in the state.
Twelve soldiers, including an officer, were ambushed by bandits on April 5, 2021, while on a routine operational task in Benue State.
The forum, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, said it did not subscribe to lawlessness and barbarism and called on security agents, community leaders and the Benue State government to fish out the perpetrators and punish them.
Yawe, however, stated that as dastardly as the actions of the bandits were, the reaction of the army was out of proportion because punishing the poor, innocent people who had nothing to do with the killings of soldiers in Konshisha was unfair and not the best way to go.
He said: "We were attending the National Working Committee (NWC)and National Executive Council (NEC) meetings of the Arewa Consultative Forum in Kaduna when news started trickling in of another round of bloodshed in Benue State.
"We hesitated to issue a statement, hoping to get full details before going into it.
"For now, we have been informed by army headquarters that soldiers on stabilising operations in the state codenamed 'Operation Whirl Stroke,' were ambushed. "Ten of the soldiers and one officer had their weapons seized, were brutally murdered and their bodies set ablaze by the bandits who mounted the ambush.
"We at the ACF do not subscribe to such lawlessness and barbarism. We condemn the actions of the bandits without reservations.
"There was no need killing members of the Nigerian Army who were merely on a mission to keep the peace.
"As dastardly as the actions of the bandits are, we find the reaction of the Army out of proportion."
Yawe stated that a petition signed by Senator Gabriel Suswam, who represents the area in the Senate to the Army Headquarters alleged that the Army was on a revenge mission in which villagers whose homes were far away from the troubled area in Konshisha Local Government were being bombed with helicopter gunboats.
"We believe that as wrong and criminal as the actions of the bandits are, the army should not use a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
"We call on the security agents and community leaders and the state government to fish out the criminals and punish them.
"Punishing poor, innocent people, who have nothing to do with the killings of soldiers in Konshisha is unfair and not the best way to go.
"The ACF calls for restraint on both sides in this crisis so that more innocent blood is not shed," he added.
The forum commended the Zamfara State Government for exposing the security men assisting bandits in the state.
"We are happy that Governor Bello Matawalle has authorised the exposure of yet another round of soldiers who have been supplying arms and animations to bandits," ACF said.
ACF stated that the criminals have used arms to make sure that the law-abiding people of Zamfara and Nigeria know no peace.
The forum said it had told the governor to go ahead and expose those involved in these conspiratorial acts and let the heavens fall.
"Now that seven of them are exposed and arrested, the ACF joins all patriots in hailing the governor and calls on all other Nigerians with information on these evil men to expose them so that Nigeria will experience peace and economic progress," the ACF said.