Two men were found dead hours after their arrest in a volatile central Nigerian city, residents said Monday, raising concerns over the military's use of force days after protesters blamed soldiers for another civilian death in the West African nation.
Local leader Ahmadu Ali Kazaure and 23-year-old Babangida Ibrahim Yusuf were among some 100 people arrested Saturday evening in the central city of Jos soon after a soldier was killed in a machete attack, said local Muslim elder Shehu Masalla.
"The soldiers kicked the door open with their boots and guns, they stormed into our house, beat us, and loaded most of us in their Hilux vans," said Yusuf's housemate, Mahmud Sabiu, who escaped arrest by hiding in the bathroom.
Kazaure was also picked up in a nearby military raid, said Masalla, who said he had spoken with the families of the two men.
Hospital officials told the families Sunday that unidentified soldiers had dropped off the bodies at the mortuary of the Jos University Teaching Hospital late Saturday night, Masalla said. Kazaure had a deep cut on his forehead, he said, and Yusuf's injuries suggested trauma.
The military could not immediately be reached for comment.
The community buried the men on Monday.
"We are going to sue the military over the deaths of these two persons," said the families' lawyer, Ahmed Garba. "We are just waiting for the post-mortem from the hospital to submit our documents in court," he said.
Military spokesman Captain Charles Ekeocha said in a statement Sunday that Sgt. Baba Wuya was killed by unidentified machete-wielding attackers in Ali Kazaure neighborhood.
The military presence is pervasive in this area where sectarian violence has left thousands dead in recent years, and rising insecurity in the West African nation has led to increased military deployments in other parts of the country amid widespread concern that soldiers are too aggressive.
The deaths in Jos follow a Thursday protest in the northeastern city of Maiduguri over the death of a businessman. His colleagues said he was shot by a soldier. A special military taskforce was deployed there in June to protect residents from the attacks of a radical Muslim sect responsible for a rash of drive-by killings and bomb attacks, but residents have complained about abuses, at one time asking for the force's complete withdrawal.
In Jos, the military's excessive use of force is only one of civilians' grievances after authorities confirmed that two soldiers were involved last month in the kidnapping of the father of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel as he drove home from work.
Police later said the kidnappers demanded $4 billion from the Chelsea star, at one point saying they considered the price "chicken change" for the Premier League team.