I went to a military school. In fact, I lived most of my early years in the barracks. I witnessed firsthand what military brutality can be. In this part of the world, the military is usually anyone on camouflage standing on the road, trying to control traffic or entering a public vehicle without paying. Over here, we call them “Staff”. They could be members of the Navy, Army or Airforce. Of course, this category of the military are the ones with lower ranks. It is highly unlikely to see a member of the military who is in top cadre jumping bus or asking a driver to use one way simply because his immunity involves not only paying for his seat but also taking “one-way” if need be.
A couple of months ago, a video went viral of members of the Nigerian Army assaulting a disabled man. The disabled man was in the popular Onitsha market square begging for alms on his wheelchair. Some members of the army dragged him down from his wheel chair and proceeded to use his body to wipe the floor of the dirty market. This cripple was roughly dragged like a common thief, his body sustaining skin peels, bruises and wounds during this torture. He was dragged by the hand and flung to the nearest gutter. We are talking about a cripple here. A disabled man who cannot walk probably due to polio sustained at childhood or an accident. We are talking about a disabled man who was defenseless as he was dragged by his fellow men. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A DISABLED MAN WHO WAS DEHUMANIZED AND DISGRACED BEFORE THE WORLD WHILE HE BLED THROUGH HIS SKIN.
What was his offence? The soldiers claim that he wore a camouflaged shirt belonging to members of the military only. This shirt was probably bought as okirika and probably didn’t cost him more than 300 hundred naira in the main market. We should applaud the power of social media at this point. Someone made a video of the whole incident and put it on Facebook. It went viral and the governor of the Anambra state took up the case, rehabilitated the disabled , offered him some money and denounced the military men in question.
Around 8.30pm last Sunday, members of the Nigerian Army brutalized another Ruth Orji in Ikorodu, Lagos state. This woman was mercilessly flogged like a slave with her back turning purple like say na dragon tattoo. Six soldiers were involved in this nonsense. I mean, why would a military man brutalize someone simply because he or she is a civilian? It doesn’t make sense. When will some members of the Nigerian military understand that this is a free state where citizens are actually entitled to fundamental human rights?
At what point do we stop “denouncing” the soldiers but actually go a step further to DISMISS THEM WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT? When has wearing the uniform become a license to behave anyhow? Nigeria is a country that abides by the rule of law (this one is a lie, sha). The government should stop speaking English when military brutality happens and take action! Will civilians die first? The Nigerian Army need to stop releasing carefully-worded press releases and train their soldiers properly! Soldiers’ need to understand that they are not in any way gods, and that a piece of cloth does not make you superior to a civilian. Personally, I believe that this thing will keep happening if an erring soldier is not used as an example. Detention is not enough. Culprits’ should be jailed according to the law.
I am so glad that the women decided to sue for 250 million naira though I think she should have made it a round figure sum of a million dollars. The Nigerian Army issued a statement and made arrests but you and I know that things can happen behind closed doors here. Don’t we all see how the U.S Army treat their citizens with respect?
The important question on the lips of everyone is: At what point do we decide that the god complex of the military has become enough?
At what point do we draw the line and say no to the brutality of the civilian?