Yesterday, soldiers in ten patrol vans conducted house-to-house search in Trikania, a suburb in Chikun local government area of Kaduna state yesterday. The operation created tension in the densely populated area.
Residents alleged that the soldiers shot sporadically into the air sending panic down their spines.
Witnesses said the operation began around 7am and lasted for over 30 minutes. It was gathered that the soldiers ransacked about 10 houses before leaving for the residence of the former chairman of Petroleum Tankers Driver, Alhaji Nuhu Mohammed.
Early last year, the ex-PTD boss was arrested and detained by soldiers for several days over allegations of gun running. He was later released following a court order.
A resident said the soldiers searched his house and many of his neighbours before leaving for the next street where the ex-PTD boss lives. He said: "They cordoned off our street and entered from one house to the other. They searched my room and they found the army uniform of my friend who passed out from Jaji few weeks ago. He has been transferred to Port Harcourt in Rivers State. I was outside the house at that time so I could not explain to them whose uniform it is.
"My neighbours who were around told me that the soldiers asked them to lie down flat on the ground before proceeding to search their houses.
An elderly man in the area said when the soldiers stormed the area; they scared residents with gunshots.
"Their gunshots scared people but at the end of the day, they only searched houses and left. Nobody was arrested," he said.
Also speaking, the ex-PTD boss said the soldiers forced their way into his house and ransacked every room. He said the soldiers injured his guard while forcing their way into his house. "I requested for search warrant that gave them the right to search my house but they couldn’t produce any," Nuhu said and also alleged that the soldiers went away with some of his valuables including gold belonging to his wife, three brocade and the sum of N300,000.
When contacted the spokesperson of the One Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman confirmed the operation, saying it was carried out based on security report received on the area. He however denied claims that his men took away any valuables during the house to house operations.
The Army spokesperson urged the public to report to the Army authority any act of misconduct by the soldiers for prompt action. He said the military will not hesitate to take disciplinary measures against any soldier that is found wanting.
"Help us to make the public understand that we are constraint in doing the search in order to ensure the safety of lives and property. Expect more of the checks and I want to assure you that on no account will soldiers conduct search on people’s houses without need for it," he said.
The spokesman reiterated the commitment of the division toward ensuring the safety of lives and property of the people in the state.
"All we are doing is for the good of the society," he said in a telephone interview.