Tuesday, October 9, 2018

My Encounter With Soldiers Searching for Missing General at Jos Restaurant


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Friday Olokor, a correspondent with PUNCH newspaper, has narrated his experience and that of 36 others in illegal detention.

According to Olokor, they were detained by soldiers searching for Mohammed Alkali, the army general who has been missing for weeks.

Alkali had been declared missing under questionable circumstances in Jos.
Narrating his experience on Monday, Olokor said he had gone to a restaurant in Rayfield area of Jos on Saturday when armed soldiers numbering about 30 stormed the place, shooting sporadically in the air.

He said they arrested every human being they sighted.
“My initial feeling during the shooting was that they were either the Fulani herdsmen (who had been a torn in the flesh of the Berom ethnic nationality), fake soldiers on military uniform or Boko Haram. Many of them were masked,” he said.

“Passers by were not spared, women and persons who were living in nearby houses were picked. Even my identification that I’m a journalist with PUNCH newspapers didn’t help matters. We were 37 victims of invasion, 28 men and 9 women.”

He identified the soldiers as a special squad from Maiduguri deployed by Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, to handle the Jos crisis.

“As the soldiers drove us, we were told to put off our telephones. The law was that you don’t talk, you don’t move and even when nature, for instance sneezing knocks, you’re in trouble,” Olokor added, saying the men were kept in an uncompleted building in Rukuba barracks, 3 division, with all their belongings confiscated.

“There in the dungeon of 3 division of Nigerian army, we saw over 30 persons, including a pregnant woman. These persons have been described as suspects that will assist them getting the culprits behind the missing general.

“All the male suspects in captivity were chained in pairs, hands and legs. If one wants to answer the call of nature, his partner must go with him, under the tight security of a soldier. It was learnt that the women we met there were only chained the first day they arrived but they were off chains when we got there and it has been so.

“The nine women among us were kept in a separate place. But we (the 28 persons) were kept in an uncompleted building which was manned by heavily armed military police. The building housing us cannot even take 10 persons, but 28 men stayed there.

“Some of us couldn’t sleep, others snored ceaselessly. Before we slept, they gave up the opportunity to go out and urinate outside as many times. But at bedtime, that grace stopped. We had to urinate in a Coca Cola plastic container.”

He said on Monday when they were about to be released, they were questioned at various times and their photos and house addresses taken.

“On several occasions during the interview, I told them I am a journalist with PUNCH newspapers and I only went to buy food but they never answered me, until one of the interview sessions conducted by a very responsible man who is said to be the commandant of the 3 division of in Rukuba barracks,” he said.

“I told him that I was working on the press statement sent to me by the deputy director of army public relations in 3 division Nigerian Army, Col. Kayode Ogunsanya, when the invaders struck.”

According to him, it was until Ogunsanya arrived the scene that he was released, with the army officer promising to “do something”.

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