A clash between personnel of the Nigerian Army and youths in the Obayantor community in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State reportedly led to the death of seven persons, including a soldier.
According to a source, the incident happened last Friday in the community.
The community is said to be witnessing leadership tussle after the removal of its youth leader (Okhaegele) and the installation of a new one.
A resident of the area who pleaded anonymity, alleged that “someone hired soldiers to the community with a view to reclaiming the Okhaegele and that during the fracas two soldiers were killed.”
Another source within the community said, “The soldiers came in large numbers and fired gunshots sporadically, forcing the people to scamper for safety. Four persons were shot dead.”
The spokesperson for 4 brigade headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Benin, Yemi Sokoya, has however denied that soldiers were hired to the community. He also dismissed the killing of two soldiers.
“Soldiers were not hired to the community and no soldier was killed. It was not a reprisal attack but an operation based on the intelligence of stockpiling of firearms.”
He stated that the brigade got a report from the DSS about hoodlums disturbing the community, and stockpile of weapons.
“We found out that it was true because as soon as we got there, some of the hoodlums engaged the troop in gun duel.
“However, even if there was a communal issue before now, with what is happening in the country today, if you are a commander and you are told people are stockpiling weapons somewhere, you will go there and ensure that those weapons are seized and those involved arrested. I think that is the right thing to do and that is exactly what the commander did.
“The issue of communal crisis is not part of why we went there. It was basically on a report that hoodlums in that community are stockpiling weapons and terrorising the community.
“The troops recovered three English pump action guns, two AK 47 riffles, one double-barrel gun, 32 live cartridges, and phones,” he added.