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The torture of civilians to death by soldiers

Within two weeks, Nigerians witnessed the torture to death of a member of the Ministry of Defense civilian staff attached to the Nigerian Naval Hospital, Lagos, by naval personnel, as well as a hotel manager in Abia State and a pregnant lady in Enugu State, by soldiers. Ejiofor right reports that these incidents have highlighted soldiers’ growing notoriety for torturing innocent civilians to death over petty disputes

Why do Nigerian soldiers always torture and kill civilians over petty disagreements? This is a question that many Nigerians often ask themselves whenever this happens.

On many occasions, rather than stop this barbaric and brutal act, military authorities chose to live in denial, covering up errant soldiers in some cases and punishing others in cases that were not covered up could be swept.

Responding to criticism over the alleged killing by the military of civilians in Okuama community in Delta State in retaliation for the killing of 17 soldiers in the area, the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa, had told ARISE TV said: “We are not animals and we are not barbaric and we are not an irresponsible army that will kill people; but the truth is, that if they had not tempered with our own brave soldiers, we should not have come out at all.

Although the number of casualties resulting from the military’s invasion of Okuama community has not been established, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, last Wednesday confirmed that at least twenty youths were killed in Igbomotoru community in the state Bayelsa, by soldiers who invaded the community. in search of the killers of the 17 soldiers brutally murdered in Delta State.

But contrary to the CDS position, the Nigerian military has over the years killed or tortured civilians to death not only for the alleged murder of soldiers but also for minor offenses such as disagreements over failed relationships, traffic-related offences, lease and land disputes. , as well as failed business deals.

In cases where military personnel are not directly involved in a dispute, the party that has access to soldiers to have his or her enemies murdered in cold blood should go to the barracks and secure the services of soldiers.

Such was the fate of a civilian staff of the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Ifeanyi Onuamegbu, who was attached to the Laboratory Department of the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital (NNRH) in Ojo, Lagos since 2009.

Onumaegbu died in his office on March 31, 2024 after being tortured by Nigerian Navy personnel, whose services were obtained by a civilian lady with whom he had an altercation.

Although the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, ordered an investigation, it remains to be seen how this investigation will revive him or prevent similar barbaric behavior by notoriously lawless Navy personnel in the future.

Nigerians were yet to recover from the news of Onuamegbu’s death when Nigerian Army personnel on April 13 tortured to death the manager of Hotel Royal Damgrete, Umuahia, Abia State, Mr. Achimugu Etubi, following the drowning of an Air Force cadet. Emmanuel Onyemereche, in the hotel swimming pool.

In what has become a ritual, the Nigerian military has also ordered an investigation, according to a statement by its spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, a major general.

In Enugu, a pregnant lady, Miss Hauwakulu Tabra, was also murdered in a most gruesome manner and her body dumped around the Divisional officers’ quarters by Private Mohammed Adamu of the 82 Division (Airborne and Amphibious) Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu.

Adamu is said to be a repentant Boko Haram fighter who joined the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) before being recruited into the Nigerian Army.

Between 2020 and 2021, the Nigerian military had reportedly absorbed 400 members of the civilian JTF into its fold to help prosecute the war against terrorists.

It is well known that some northern states are recruiting repentant Boko Haram fighters into the CJTF to help fight the terrorists.

Not surprisingly, many of the repentant Boko Haram fighters later joined the military and continued their atrocities.

In the Ikorodu area of ​​Lagos, a commercial motorcyclist, Saheed Isa, was lucky to survive after being stabbed in the abdomen with a pistol-like Jack Knife on April 13 by a Lance Corporal of the Nigerian Army attached to 159 Battalion in the state Yobe.

The spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the arrest of the soldier last Monday.

In what appears to be a threat to the much cherished esprit de corps, Private Yahaya Sani, a soldier attached to the 74 Supply and Transport Brigade, 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army, also reportedly stabbed his colleague, Private Aliyu Musa, for allegedly accused of having his phone stolen in Enugu metropolis last Monday.

Some soldiers were also said to have been involved in the theft of armored cables at the Dangote Refinery in Lagos last week.

The Nigerian Army had admitted in a statement that the two soldiers were hired by a civilian contractor identified simply as Mr Smart, who claimed he wanted to recover some armored cables he had left at the refinery premises.

It is becoming increasingly worrying that soldiers are being hired for fraudulent escort duties and by those seeking to settle scores in the event of disputes.

Before these latest incidents, similar heinous acts by soldiers had also resulted in the killing of police officers and civilians.

In November 2023, soldiers of the 23rd Armored Brigade in Adamawa State raided the police headquarters in Jimeta-Yola and killed a police officer after a disagreement that led to the shooting of a soldier by police officers attached to Jimeta Division who were conducting routine checks. on the road at the target intersection via Yola North Local Government Area.

The army later mobilized armored trucks and attacked the state police headquarters.

Many believe that a more responsible military would have used constitutional means to avenge the shooting of its personnel by a sister organization, rather than resorting to acts of barbarity and lawlessness.

In August 2022, soldiers of the Ojo Military Cantonment in Lagos had also tortured and killed an inspector serving at the Lagos State Police Command, Monday Orukpe, over traffic-related issues.

Men of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had also stormed the Ladipo spare parts market in Lagos in July 2021 and shot at traders, following a dispute over a motorcycle part purchased by a soldier.

No responsible military personnel tortures and kills police officers and civilians at the slightest provocation like the Nigerian soldiers who believe they are trained to kill without any consequences.

President Bola Tinubu should put an end to this barbarity by Nigerian soldiers against the civilian population, which successive governments have failed to address.