The Nigerian Army publicly apologized to the people of Benue State, north central Nigeria, Tuesday over the killing of its citizens in the Zaki Biam area of the state by soldiers in 2001.
The Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Luka Yusuf, tendered the apology in Makurdi, the state capital, at the annual conference of the army.
The army massacred some 100 people in Zaki Biam in 2001 to avenge the killing of 19 of the troops deployed to restore peace in the area following ethnic violence.
Many properties, including the house of the former Army Chief of Staff, retired General Victor Malu, was burnt in the disturbance.
Yusuf said the unfortunate incident happened while the army was executing its constitutional responsibility.
He urged the people of Benue State not to regard the army as an enemy ‘but an institution that is committed to unity and peaceful co- existence in Nigeria.’
He noted that the army had lost men in active service both at home and at international peacekeeping operations.
‘Although various commendations were won, they were not without casualties on our part,’ he said.
‘The killing of seven Nigerian soldiers in Darfur though devastating, has only strengthened our resolve to the restoration of peace in those troubled spots,’ he said.
Gabriel Suswam, governor of Benue State accepted the apology on behalf of his people.
Suswam implored the Nigerian government to rehabilitate victims of the disturbance to remove the scars of the incident.
– Agency Report