It has happened again, now in Calabar on Thursday, where a female soldier Viola Anele in a viral video dehumanized NYSC corps operative Ezeiruaku Ifeyinwa Fidelia.
It is an old culture of the Nigerian Army who got drunk with power since 1966 they hijacked power and ran Nigeria as they pleased for as long as it pleased them.
It is just in mere words to say the Nigerian military, army especially, left power in the past 22 years. Right inside their minds and in their psyche, they are very much in charge and the superior citizens whom others have to live at their behest.
Take it further and you see that the toxin of superiority is in every Nigerian worker dressed in uniform, including LASTMA officials on Lagos roads, the FRSC operatives and many more. Their words are orders and conveyed with coercion. You don’t argue or reason with them. You just obey the superior humans or get bruised and brutalized.
What happened in Calabar the last time is just what we have for now because another will happen soon.
While the Nigerian Army can issue sweet and face-saving rejoinders to the embarrassing videos and photos that we have come to be familiar with, fact is that this happening every now and again conveys the unmistakable impression that the Nigerian Army and other military and paramilitary arms train their officers to brutalize unarmed civilians. You can easily deduce that they train them with the mindset that they are superior and super humans whom others must obey. The soldier, navy officer, air force men, police, the highest of them all, operate the same way.
Check out a situation where the social media that is respecter of nobody’s excesses has not toned down their brutality what had been the order when they were in power and the social media was not there to expose them?
As we always hear and know would happen, in swift response, the Army spokesman, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, replied in the same old and familiar tone that “the Directorate of Army Public Relations condemned the act describing it as “unprofessional.
“And the Nigerian Army has taken cognizance of a video clip currently making the rounds on the social media, where a female officer was seen dehumanizing a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Calabar, Cross River State. This act is not only condemnable but unprofessional and against established precepts of discipline in the NA.
“The NA has remained undoubtedly the pride of the nation, a symbol of national unity that has consistently been in the vanguard of respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
“It is against this premise that the NA condemns this unimaginable level of infraction by personnel in its ranks. The NA therefore condemns in strong terms, this act of gross misconduct. Undoubtedly, the officer’s actions have caused the NA monumental embarrassment and are highly regrettable.
“For the records, the ugly incident happened in 13 Brigade, Calabar. The Brigade Commander immediately instituted an investigation and the officer involved has been identified and sanctioned on the interim and would be made to undergo regimental orders (trial) in line with the extant provisions of the Armed Forces Act.”
What you heard Nwachukwu say is just the end of the story. Tomorrow, another will happen and you will hear similar response.
On February 9, 2017, two soldiers were caught on camera torturing and dehumanizing a disabled beggar in Onitsha Anambra State. They said his offence was wearing military camouflage.
In November same year, news of their punishment – demotion, and jail was heard, and how do we know if that was real since all these happen in the army quarters?
The two offenders, Corporal Bature Samuel and Corporal Abdulazeez Usman of 82 Provost Company, were arrested, summarily tried on two charges, and found guilty, the Army said in a statement on its Facebook page.
History was to repeat on December 2, 2020 in Ibadan when a female soldier again assaulted and brutalized a helpless bloody civilian Nigerian. The victim, Bolade Adedeji, also physically challenged ended in a hospital after the female soldier with tag Mamman H. taught him she was a superior citizen. We are yet to hear that Mamman was punished after the sweet army public relations response.
Some five years ago, Lagosians were shocked by the terrible act of torture and dehumanization of a Nigerian at the Cele bus stop Area of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway as a female soldier so many times slapped, rolled a man on the ground and kicked him for according to them, admiring and telling the soldier she looked beautiful. That on its own was an offence. When the lady was done, her male colleagues joined in the assault on the man. The video was also viral and we never heard of any punishment.
It has become a tradition to invite soldiers into civil disputes to ‘teach someone a lesson’, even in issues of debts.
On October 26, with the massacre of #ENDSARS protesters at Lekki still fresh, a Nigerian soldier subjected a citizen, Adaoma to torture again in Lagos. The lady was bold enough to record the assault herself. It started at a bank when people queued to use the ATM and Adaoma committed the sacrilege of asking the military man to join the queue and wait for his turn.
She narrated on social media: “Hello Nigerians, I was just assaulted by an army official this morning 26/10/2020 at the ATM stand of @UBAGroup at their Oshodi branch. I’m still shaking and crying as I write this because I have never felt this way in my entire life.”
January 22, 2021, it was the turn of Chikelu Ofoedu, a Nigerian international footballer that plays with the Macabi Tel Aviv, Israel.
Chikelu explained in the video he shared online how he questioned the soldier, Nasiru for driving against the traffic, on the wrong lane. The response he got was beating from the soldier
As Chikelu refused to allow the soldier to drive off, he got out of his car and threatened to stab him with a machete, and was restrained by his female colleague.
Although they have been incidents the army took actions that assuaged the feelings of the people over an assault like in the Onitsha case in 2017 where the army donated items to assist the disabled victim to live, but this culture of impunity leaves observers with a strong feeling that what the soldiers display is actually what the system teaches them, maybe on the rule of thou-shall-not-be-caught. And as it is done in the intelligence circles, you have the permission to act foul of rules, but you bear the brunt when caught and celebrated when you succeed.
In a major response to the smear of the Nigerian Army image on these incidents, especially in its activities to combat Boko Haram terrorism, in February 2016, it created the Human Rights Desk in response to alleged human rights violations.
On November 13, 2019, Capt. Veronica Williams, Nigerian Army Human Rights Desk Officer, admitted that her office had been inundated with 350 complaints against her men and officers within three years of the office’s operation.
There have been some other similar accusations against soldiers during elections, especially reported by the INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye in the 2019 elections. We also have cases of sexual assault allegations against Nigerian soldiers at IDP camps of displaced Nigerians.
While many of them professionally battle the enemies of Nigeria, the Army has to work hard to clear herself of the stain of deliberately training her officers to think superior and brutalize Nigerians at every slight provocation just because they bear guns and wear uniforms.