The Special Task Force in Plateau State, Operation Safe Haven, has confirmed the killing of one Bala Rinji, a 20-year-old 300 Level student of the University of Jos.
Rinji, popular known as Bobo, was said to have been mistakenly shot by a sentry of the OPSH at its office along Zaria Road, Jos on Tuesday.
Confirming the incident to NAN, Major Ibrahim Shittu, Media Officer of OPSH, described the incidence as “unfortunate”.
According to Shittu, personnel of the task force responded to a distress call on activities of cultists and armed robbers around the area and arrested seven suspects.
He explained that Rinji and four other suspects were cleared and released, but on their way out, a personnel on duty mistook them for escaping suspects and opened fire on them.
He said: “Yesterday, at about 10pm, we received information of the activities of suspected armed robbers and cultists operating around No. 18th Street axis, opposite Hwolshe community.
“The report revealed that the criminals took advantage of the lockdown and curfew to perpetrate crimes.
“Consequently, our Sector 1 patrol troops of OPSH swiftly responded and arrested seven suspects, who were immediately moved to the Headquarters of the 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, one of the personnel on sentry duty mistook them for escaping suspects, thus opened fire on them, which led to the death of Rinji Bala.”
The media officer, however, said a thorough investigation had commenced to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding that the personnel involved has been arrested and detained.
He explained that a delegation from OPSH had visited the family of the deceased and commiserated with them and promised to ensure the deceased gets justice.
Emmanuel Dung, an eyewitness, told NAN that Rinji and five others were arrested at about 7pm on Tuesday by the OPSH team.
Dung, who was among those arrested alongside the deceased, narrated that they were taken to the sector one of OPSH, along Zaria Road, Jos.
He said: “The soldiers didn’t say what our offence was and took us to their office at Zaria Road.
“They tortured us for over an hour and later released us at about 10pm.
“At the gate, some soldiers asked us to run.
“When we took off, they opened fire on us and Bobo (Rinji) fell down few meters away from the gate.
“I stopped to help him, but a soldier came close with his gun pointed at me, but turned back, and one of the soldiers shouted ceasefire.”
Peter Bala, father of the deceased, told NAN that he got to the office of the soldiers shortly after the incident.
He said the Sector Commander told him that the kids were found innocent after investigation and were released.
He said: “When I got wind that my son along others were arrested, I quickly rushed to the military base at Zaria Road.
“The Sector Commander told me the boys were found innocent and have been released.
“But I saw a corpse at the entrance of the military base, but didn’t know it was my son and they never told me until I met his fellow detainee while driving home.”