There was panic on Tuesday at Edo State, when soldiers, who were part of Operation Crocodile Smile II, allegedly razed down 15 houses at Ajakurama community, near Egbema Kingdom in Ovia South West council area of the state.
The incident occurred in the early hours of the day as the residents of the area flee for their lives.
Investigations revealed that the soldiers, men of the Operation Crocodile Smile II, stormed the community in nine gunboats and several speed boats in search of suspected kidnappers.
They were further alleged to have burnt down buildings. Some residents claimed that a member of the community took the soldiers round the community and pointed out each house that was later burnt.
The soldiers were said to have been called into Ajakurama community about 8a.m. by an ex-militant General, Mr. Ejuene Peres, to settle old scores against those perceived to be his enemies.
Reacting to the allegation, Peres said he didn’t invite soldiers to the community, stressing that he only wrote a petition to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, against some people in the community.
He said that Idris had since referred the matter to the Assistant-Inspector General of police (AIG), in charge of Zone 5, Benin for proper investigation. He revealed that the petition was over the destruction of his building.
His words: “I did not invite the soldiers. I didn’t make any arrangement with soldiers to enter Ajakurama. Some people offended me and I wrote a petition to the IGP. The IGP referred the petition to the AIG.
The AIG has invited these people, so they should go and answer the AIG who is still waiting for them. I have no hands in Ajakurama matter. They should ask the Federal Government how soldiers came to be at Ajakurama. People should ask the soldiers why they came to Ajakurama.”
The Army Public Relations Officer for 4th Brigade Command, Benin, Captain Muhammed Maidawa, when contacted, said officers from the command carried out the operation at Ajarukama community.
He explained that the army took the action because there was credible information available to the command, about activities of kidnappers in the community.
He noted that kidnappers were living in the community.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Moses Nkombe, when contacted, said the command was not aware of the incident.