Soldier ‘mistakenly’ shoots UNIJOS student dead, friends disagree, Gov Lalong reacts

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, has commiserated with the family of an undergraduate student of the University of Jos who was shot dead by a soldier who claimed to have mistook him for a suspected arm robber.

The young boy who was just 20 years old was fired at during an operation carried out by the Nigerian Army Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH).

According to the Media Officer of the OPSH, Ibrahim Shittu, the young man who was in his 300Level in the University was mistakenly fired at by an officer during an operation at No. 18th Street axis, opposite Hwolshe community in Jos.

Shittu stated that the Task Force had received a distress call on Tuesday, May 12 that some suspected robbers and cultists were causing unrest in the community, and immediately swung into action which in the process lead to the death of Rinji Bala.

He said; “Operation Safe Haven regrets the unfortunate death of a civilian by name Mr Rinji Peter Bala by its personnel.”

“At about 10pm on 12 May 2020, information was received on the activities of suspected armed robbers and cultists operating around No 18th Street, Jos South LGA of Plateau State.”

“The report revealed that the criminals took advantage of the lockdown and curfew to perpetrate crimes. Consequently, Sector 1 patrol troops of OPSH swiftly responded and arrested seven suspects, which were immediately moved to the Headquarters Sector 1 for preliminary investigation. Thereafter, five out of the seven suspects were cleared and asked to leave the premises.”

“Unfortunately, as they were leaving the premises, one of the personnel on sentry duty mistook them for escaping suspects, thus opened fire on them, which led to the death of Mr Rinji Bala.”

“However, a thorough investigation is ongoing to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident. Meanwhile, the MOPOL personnel involved in the incident has been arrested and detained accordingly.

“Operation SAFE HAVEN has condemned the sad incident. A representative of OPSH has also visited the parents of the deceased to commiserate with them. OPSH also assures the general public of justice.”

But some of his friends who claimed to have been with the deceased when he was shot said the deceased was picked up along with five others on allegation of burglary and was taken to a sector command of the taskforce on Zaria road. Later they were released and asked to go after they were beaten up. While they were going, the soldiers opened fire at them.

Rinji was reportedly the only one killed by the solders’ bullets while the others survived to narrate what happened. Watch the video below.

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Governor Lalong called for calmness and ordered that the incident be investigated

He said: “I am shocked and saddened by the death of Mr. Rinji Peter Bala, who was said to have been shot by security personnel along Zaria Road, Jos on 12th May 2020.

“I have directed that thorough investigation be carried out to unravel the circumstances surrounding the killing of the young man.”

“Those found culpable will face the law of the land. I appeal for calm and commiserate with the family of late Rinji Bala. I’ll ensure we get #JusticeForRinji.”

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