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HURIWA Debunks False Report, Commends Soldiers for Preventing Carnage in Asese

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has debunked misleading reports circulating in the media about Nigerian soldiers allegedly hired by Christ Embassy to fire live bullets at workers executing a court-ordered demolition in Asese, Ogun State on July 6, 2024. Contrary to these claims,

HURIWA, in a press statement read at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, commended the Nigerian soldiers for their timely and commendable intervention, which prevented a potentially deadly clash in the community. Eyewitness accounts and credible sources confirm that the soldiers were on a routine patrol and not hired by any party involved in the dispute.

“According to eyewitness accounts, a team of Nigerian Army soldiers on routine patrol intervened in a face-off between police attached to the Inner City Mission compound and thugs reportedly backed by a detachment of fully armed Police Mobile Force (PMF) 41. This orchestrated onslaught by thugs led by one Femi, allegedly hired by Mr. Paul Audu, almost resulted in mayhem and a breakdown of law and order in the Asese community,” HURIWA stated.

“The conflict originated from an interlocutory order issued by Justice B.B. Adebowale of the Ogun State High Court in Abeokuta on July 1, 2024, in favor of Mr. Paul Audu, mandating the demolition of a fence between his property and the Inner City Mission. The defendants, Inner City Mission for Children, promptly appealed the order the same day and obtained a notice of appeal and a stay of execution, which were duly served on all relevant parties, including the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State Command, and the Ibafo Divisional Police Officer (DPO).”

“Despite the appeal processes, Mr. Audu, agitated by the situation, resorted to self-help by allegedly hiring thugs and procuring men from PMF 41 from outside Ogun State to support his illegal actions. On July 3, 2024, when Mr. Audu attempted to enforce the court order with the help of thugs and PMF 41, the DPO, having been served the notice of appeal and stay of execution, declined to provide police backing, recognizing the legal implications.”

“Reportedly, on July 6, 2024, Mr. Audu again mobilized thugs and PMF 41 to invade the premises of the Inner City Mission, wielding dangerous weapons and an excavator to demolish the disputed fence. The situation escalated as the PMF 41 began shooting sporadically into the air to intimidate the workers who resisted the demolition. The gunshots caused panic in the neighborhood, attracting the attention of the Nigerian Army soldiers on patrol.”

“The timely intervention of the soldiers prevented further violence and potential loss of life. Upon sighting the soldiers, Femi and his thugs fled the scene, restoring peace and order to the community. The presence of the soldiers effectively de-escalated the situation, ensuring that the conflict did not escalate into a larger and more dangerous confrontation,” HURIWA narrated.

Hence, HURIWA commended the Nigerian Army for their professionalism and dedication to maintaining peace and security in Asese. The association noted that their intervention was critical in preventing a dangerous situation from spiraling out of control and protecting the lives of innocent residents. They emphasized that the soldiers’ actions exemplify their commitment to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding the community.

HURIWA highlighted that the soldiers, according to eyewitness accounts, were not procured by any party but were on a routine patrol as part of their duty to ensure security in the area, accentuating that their involvement was purely to restore normalcy and prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

Furthermore, HURIWA called on the Inspector General of Police to address the alarming issue of police officers being procured from outside their jurisdiction to participate in civil matters and cause mayhem. Frowning upon the involvement of PMF 41, allegedly procured by Mr. Audu, HURIWA noted that this highlights a concerning trend of police officers engaging in illegal duties and working in tandem with armed thugs. This practice undermines the integrity of law enforcement and poses a significant threat to public safety.

“The Inspector General of Police must take decisive action to curtail the involvement of police officers in such illegal activities. It is imperative to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged deployment of PMF 41 in this incident and ensure that those responsible are held accountable. The integrity of the Nigerian Police Force must be upheld, and steps should be taken to prevent any recurrence of such incidents in the future.

“HURIWA stands firmly against the false reports maligning the Nigerian Army and distorting the events in Asese. We commend the soldiers for their exemplary conduct and call on the authorities to address the misuse of police resources in civil matters. It is crucial to uphold the rule of law and ensure justice prevails for all parties involved.

“We remain committed to advocating for human rights and justice, and we will continue to monitor developments in this case to ensure that the truth is upheld and that peace and security are maintained in Asese and beyond,” HURIWA concluded.

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