…We only cleared militants’ camps
…I did not invite soldiers-General Peres
Residents in Akakurama community in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State have fled their houses following invasion of the community by troops serving in Operation Crocodile Smile II.
The soldiers were said to have stormed the community in nine gunboats and several speed boats in search of suspected kidnappers and criminals.
Some of the fleeing villagers said more than 15 houses were razed in the community by the military.
A source said the soldiers were called into Ajakurama community on Monday at about 8:00am by an ex-militant identified as Ejuene Peres to settle old scores against those perceived to be his arch enemies.
The source claimed that trouble started when a community leader in the community was killed and his body found in the river after a few days.
It was learnt that family members of the slain community leader took his corpse to the residential family building of Mr. Peres and allowed the corpse stayed there for some days.
A truce called by elders and residents of the community made the family to bury the corpse even when the case was still pending at the office of the AIG Zone 5 in Benin.
The source who pleaded anonymity said Peres used the military invasion to settle old scores he had with some persons in the community who fingered his family over the death of the community leader.
“He (Peres) brought in military men to invade the community of some selected persons. They came in 9 gunboats and several speed boats. People started running helter skelter for their lives. He was with the soldiers pointing at houses while the soldiers set houses ablaze”
He listed among other victims whose houses were affected as Chief Godwin Namu, Baba Agbuke, aka Zion and all Ex-militant leaders.
But Peres in his reaction denied inviting soldiers to the community and that he only petitioned some persons in the community before the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris who referred the matter to the AIG Zone 5, Benin for proper investigation over alleged destruction of his house.
He said, “I did not invite any soldiers, I did not make any arrangement with any soldier to enter into Ajakurama. Ajakurama is a community on its own. It is a Nigerian community. Soldiers can go to Ajakurama for any of their investigation.
“If soldiers went to Ajakurama community they should not call me. I did not invite soldiers to Ajakurama. People who offended me and I wrote a petition to the IGP and the IGP recommended the petition to the AIG. The AIG invited them, so they should go and answer the AIG who is still waiting for them.
“If anything happens to them, I don’t know where they have put their hands, I have no hands in Ajakurama matter. They should ask the federal government how soldiers came to Ajakurama. They should ask Abuja, they should ask Zone 5. They should ask Operation Crocodile in Warri why they are in Ajakurama.”
Army Public Relations Officer for 4 Brigade Command, Captain Muhammed Maidawa confirmed that soldiers carried out an operation in the area following credible information.
Captain Maidawa said the operation was to clear militant camps in the community.
He said he was not aware whether any Peres invited soldiers to the community to settle scores.