By Ibanga Isine
A grand conspiracy to cover up the March 18 killing of seven youth by soldiers guarding Dangote Cement factory in Gboko, Nigeria’s North-Central state of Benue, has been uncovered.
PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report that six months after troops opened fire on unarmed protesters in the major Benue town, neither the Army nor the Police has arrested or questioned anybody in connection with the crime.
Even the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, a body established by law for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights in Nigeria is yet to carry out any meaningful action on the killings months after it received petitions from the affected community.
PREMIUM TIMES had on June 30, exposed the massacre of seven youth at Mr. Dangote’s multi-billion naira cement factory after demonstrators gathered to protest the shooting, by a soldier, of 19 year-old Mr. Terhile Jirbo.
Mr. Jirbo was attacked for relieving himself near the cement factory and refusing to pack the waste with his mouth when a soldier ordered him to do so.
Mr. Jirbo survived the attack but the bullet tore his mouth apart and left him permanently disfigured.
Villagers, who responded after the shooting by staging what several witnesses said was a peaceful demonstration to the Dangote factory, met a bloody pushback by the troops.
Hours after the protest, the soldiers opened fire killing seven of the protesters including a woman, who was shot in the head at close range.
The 19-year old woman, Doose Ornguze, a resident of Tsekucha, near Mbayion, survived the first shot at her, and was trying to crawl to safety before a soldier walked up close and fired into her skull.
Ms. Ornguze was the parent figure for her two siblings, and managed to keep herself and two siblings in school, despite losing both parents years back.
Months of investigations by PREMIUM TIMES showed years of tension between Gboko community and Dangote company, and exposed how neither the government nor the company reached out to the community or punished the trigger-happy soldiers.
Military and police authorities told this newspaper in June that investigations were ongoing several months after the attack.
The Nigerian Human Rights Commission, NHRC, also said it was carrying out investigations on the killings and had reached out to the military and leaders of Gboko community.
While the government agencies were foot-dragging in their investigations, Mr. Dangote who is Africa’s richest man had reached out for settlement with members of Gboko community after this newspaper exposed the killing.
The Ter Gboko, Gabriel Shosum had in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, September 16, confirmed that Mr. Dangote settled with families of those killed and or injured during the attack March 18 attack.
He said cheques were handed over to the beneficiaries at the multi-purpose conference hall of the cement company on August 22.
According to the monarch, each family that lost a youth got N5 million cheque while those who were injured got cheques of N2 million each.
While Mr. Dangote’s firm has accepted responsibility and settled with the community, none of the government agencies that investigated the killings has come up with any report on the matter.
Source: PREMIUM TIMES