It was pure tension that took over the Tungan-Maje community in Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Sunday, November 21, 2021, as soldiers invaded three houses while shooting sporadically.
It was learnt that the soldiers attacked the houses at about 7:15pm and allegedly beat up one of the kingmakers of the community identified as the Galadima of Tungan-Maje, Salihu Aliyu, and his son, Abdulrahman Salihu.
The soldiers, who were said to be about thirteen 13 in number dressed in army uniforms.
They also wielded guns and sticks and they stormed the community in a Hilux vehicle.
It was also gathered that the soldiers allegedly beat up a 24-year-old student of the College of Education, Zuba, Shemau Salihu, who sustained a fracture on her hand, and five others in the community.
It was further found that some commercial motorcyclists passing through the area, who decided to stop at the scene of the incident, were also beaten by the soldiers.
A resident of the community, Abdullahi Ibrahim, recounted that he managed to escape through his back door when the rampaging soldiers stormed his house.
He added that the soldiers beat up anyone within sight with sticks and dragged their victims on the floor into their Hilux van.
Abdullahi also said he was seated with his friend, Abdulrahman Salihu, in front of his house when the soldiers alighted from their Hilux van.
He said, “A man and woman came and pointed at Abdulrahman and before you knew it they started beating him with sticks while some started shooting into the air and also entered into some houses.”
Abdulrahman while speaking with our reporter said he had no problem with any of the soldiers but said he was surprised that a woman came with a man in mufti and pointed at him.
He added, “The woman just pointed at me saying ‘he is the brother’. I then asked her what the problem was. How can you just come from nowhere with someone and start pointing at me.”
He said a few minutes later while people were coming out of the mosque after observing Ishai prayers, some soldiers alighted from the Hilux van and descended on him.
“They also pounced on my father, who also just finished observing Ishai prayers, and was coming out of the mosque. They dragged both of us on the ground into their van and drove us to their barrack,” he alleged.
Aliyu corroborated his son's claim.
“In fact, I even asked my son if he had any misunderstanding with them and he told me no. Yet, they hit me with a big stick and inflicted a deep cut on my head and later dragged me into their vehicle to their barrack,” he said.
Another victim, Adamu Abubakar, said the soldiers also descended on him immediately after observing Ishai prayers and dragged him into their Hilux van to the barrack.
“Some of the soldiers used their legs and smashed my door, while one of them pushed my wife to the ground who was carrying a baby on her back,” he said.
The invasion of the soldiers may not be unconnected to land compensation disagreement between a younger sibling of Abdulrahman Salihu, whose name was yet to be identified and a woman identified as Mrs Gambo Adama, which lingered for two years, a report by Daily Trust revealed.
Chief of Tungan-Maje, Alhaji Salihu Isiaku Na’Annabi, confirmed the incident, saying he was in his palace when some of his subjects came to report to him that some soldiers had beaten up Galadima of Tungan-Maje and some others.
“I put a call across to the Agora of Zuba, even though I couldn’t get him on the phone but I told the Makama Karmi to alert him about the incident in my domain,” he said.
The monarch said one of his sons later contacted the commander of the barrack at Tungan-Maje to report the incident and the commander promised to investigate the matter.
Vice Chairman of Gwagwalada Area Council, Alhaji Mohammed Kasim Ikwa, said he visited the community immediately after receiving the information about the incident.
While condemning the incident, he said he had placed a call to the FCT Police Commissioner, Sunday Babaji, to inform him about the incident.
“I learnt that when some people have a disagreement with someone, the next thing such a person will do is to go and invite a soldier at their base to come and molest people,” he alleged.
President of Koro Youth Association in the FCT, Comrade Adamu Isyaku, who is a native of Tungan-Maje, alleged that people of the community have been facing frequent threats and harassment from soldiers in the area.
He alleged that despite the natives’ ancestral land being forcefully taken over from them by the Nigeria Army, the army has never rendered any help to them, rather they go about intimidating and assaulting their people.
He further alleged that the community has been under siege of kidnapping and armed robbery, but the army whose barrack is in the community has never come to their rescue.
“I see no reason why the army should be interfering in civil matters that involve civilians. Anytime there is a disagreement between two civilians in the community, one person will just go and invite a soldier to come and assault the other person,” he alleged.
Comrade Isyaku said the association has already written a petition to the Public Complaint Commission (PCC), FCT Police Commissioner, DSS, army, police area commander about an alleged incessant assault on natives of the community by soldiers in the area.
An army officer, who asked not to be named, revealed that the garrison commander has received a petition from the natives of the community through the Commissioner of Public Complaints Commission (PCC), Mr Ezekiel Dalhatu Musa.
“Really, the FCT Commissioner of PCC brought a petition to our Garrison Commander on Wednesday, regarding the incident at Tungan-Maje, and he assured him that he was going to investigate the matter,” he said.