The deputy governor of Bono State has denied that 30 civilians were killed in reprisal attacks by officers of the Joint Task Force, JTF.
Mr. Mustapha said the bodies seen by eye-witnesses were not those of corpses but people “sleeping.”
Men of the JTF, while trying to avenge the death of some of their colleagues who were killed after an IED planted by the roadside exploded, allegedly went on an extra judicial killing spree on Monday. Scores of innocent civilians were reportedly killed while houses, and cars were also burnt by the security personnel, residents of the area said.
The JTF denied these claim; so has Mr. Mustapha.
Speaking on the BBC Newsday Programme on Wednesday, Mr. Mustapha said the eye witnesses may have mistaken the people they saw lying on the ground sleeping for corpses.
“Absolutely it is not true, we went there, we saw some people lying down on the ground, they were sleeping,” he said. “I saw all of them lying down and I saw some of them sitting down.”
Mr. Mustapha said he had on his team about twenty five journalists who could corroborate what he said.
“I went there with about 25 journalists and they also saw the people. The residents may have thought all the people were corpses, I also thought they were corpses,” he added.
Hospital sources had told PREMIUM TIMES that several corpses were deposited in various hospitals after the incident including at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
The JTF on Tuesday, had in two separate statements by its spokesperson, Sagir Musa, claimed that because there has been no “established or recorded case of extra judicial killing, torture, arson or arbitrary arrest by the JTF in Borno state”, its officers could not have been involved in extra judicial killings.
On Monday, the JTF was reported to have killed over 30 civilians and burnt over 50 houses because a Lieutenant and some officers reportedly died after an Improvised Explosive Device, IED, planted on their route exploded.
The task force in its statement said “the attack led to the death of an officer and two soldiers with others severely injured.”
Mr. Musa also said the houses that were seen burnt along Lagos Street, could have been from the IED blast because IEDs contain “acid and highly inflammable substances that propagate blasts and thermal effects which set houses and shops around the vicinity on fire.”
He claimed that it was the effect of the blasts that wreaked the Monday havoc in the state as opposed to media and eye witness reports that puts the blame on the JTF.
– Premium Times