Reps to probe killing of youths by military in Plateau

The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to investigate the alleged sexual harassment and shooting of a female student by a soldier in Plateau State.

The action followed a motion jointly moved by Reps. Istifanus Gyang (Plateau-PDP) and Edward Pwajok (Plateau-APC).

Moving the motion, Gyang informed the House that on the Oct. 19, 2017, Indigenes of Sopp in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State embarked on a protest against soldiers manning checkpoint in the community, who allegedly caused the death of two boys.

He added that in the course of the protest, one of the soldiers a 17-year-old SS1 female student of Government Secondary School, Sopp, for allegedly refusing his sexual advances.

Gyang told the assembly that he personally visited the girl in the hospital where she opened up to him about the sexual harassment and deliberate shooting by the soldier.

The lawmaker further disclosed that apart from the girl two other people, Danjuma kaze and his son, Irimiya, were also shot and were receiving treatment at Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos.

“The Military is massively engaged in internal security operations across the nation as part of the commitment of government to live up to its foremost constitutional responsibility of ensuring the wellbeing, safety and security of the citizens.

“In the process of understanding this onerous task, the military has been contending with cases of human rights abuses, some of which have attracted the attention and condemnation of Amnesty International.

“While the military high command has repeatedly assured the citizens of its commitment to the observance of human rights as amply embedded in the rules of engagement, there are behaviours and actions of some operatives that are negating this noble quest.

“The military personnel whom the nation has entrusted with the responsibility of protecting lives and property of citizens are turning round to constitute a threat to the people.”

On his part, Rep Edward Pwajok, a co-mover of the motion, noted that since the girl identified the soldier and was ready to testify, she should be provided security because her life was presently in danger.

The Leader of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila questioned the involvement of military in the internal security of Plateau when they were continually empowered to protect the nation from external aggregation.

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He noted that if the military were to perform such duty in Plateau it would have been subject to approval of National Assembly.

The leader blamed the legislature for the gap and advocated the quick passage of a bill that would curb incessant killings by the military.

Gbajabiamila also stressed the need for the legislature to properly define what constituted sexual harassment.

“It is important we qualify and establish what is sexual harassment, if we live that window open, we cannot give comprehensive sanction,’’ he said.

Rep. Betty Apiafi (Rivers-PDP), suggested that ‘’we should use more of the police to solve internal problems.

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`There are so many military operations going on, it is important that executive is cautioned.

The assembly mandated its committees on Human Rights, Defence and Army to investigate the matter and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.

The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.

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