*Demands investigations of cases of extrajudicial executions of citizens by Soldiers
Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has expressed strong opinion on the current ordeals of a female soldier who recently got engaged to a corps member at the Yikpata Orientation Camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Kwara State, saying the military hierarchy waste a lot of time on frivolous issues.
HURIWA recalled that a video of a male corps member proposing to a female soldier at the NYSC Camp recently surfaced online and went viral.
In the clip, the lovers were seen sharing lovey-dovey moments while the corps member wore the lady’s military cap as she stood directly behind him. They thereafter shared a kiss to the delight of other corps members filming the incident.
HURIWA said although media report from a dependable media source maintained that the female soldier is not detained at a military incarceration facility but in a safe guardroom where erring personnel are kept in the enforcement of disciplinary actions, the Rights group wonders why the private affairs of a female soldier and her would-be fiancée would become pivotal matters for official press release whereas such weighty issues of alleged burning down of a part of Oguta Local Government Area in Imo State and the reported attack in an Enugu community recently filmed by the aggressors from the Nigeria Army are yet to be professionally investigated by the relevant authority.
HURIWA wonders why alleged cases of sexual molestation and harassment of junior female soldiers by their officers are not so much a big issue that demands holistic investigations and redress for the victims of sexual harassment suffering in silence, but the show of love by a junior female officer and a male NYSC youth Corps member has dominated the attention of an entire department in the Army- that of Public Relations Officer.
“We in the organised civil society community in Nigeria are scandalised that the public show of affection between a soldier and her lover boy NYSC Corper in Kwara State has forced the Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, to waste precious resources to issue an official reaction saying that it is an act of indiscipline for a trainer to engage in an affair with her trainee.”
HURIWA recalled with absolute disappointment that the Army places so much premium on dealing with such an insignificant case of indiscipline if any than seek for a transparent process of Internally investigating unambiguous and glaring evidence of illegality of soldiers attacking an entire Imo State community resulting in the near total burning down of that Imo State community as a revenge for the dastardly criminal act of the murder of two privates in the Nigerian Army by some lawless armed hoodlums in Oguta.
“Imagine that the Nigerian Army is throwing her weight all over the media by asserting shamelessly that the female soldier in NYSC Camp in Kwara State who showed affection towards a youth Corps male members who professed love and readiness to marry her but the Army through her hierarchy argued that the Nigerian Army has codes of conduct, rules and regulations guiding our personnel whenever and wherever they are deployed for duty. The thing to ask is why pay so much attention to little issues but cases of professional misconduct that brings global opprobrium to the institutional image of the military are being glossed over”.
“Army spokesperson General Nwachukwu said the public perception would have been different if a male soldier had proposed to a female trainee, adding that it (public) would have seen it as taking advantage of the female trainee. These rules were put in place for the purpose of proper administration and discipline in the Army. If I may ask, what if the soldier was a male? How would the public have perceived his action? Definitely, it would have been perceived as taking advantage of a female corps member, a trainee, put in his care for training. The same applies here. The Nigerian military like all others has its disciplinary codes, distinct from that of the general society. Every personnel has voluntarily undertaken to be bound by this code,” he added. HURIWA said this is a pathetic embarrassment to the institution of the Army to devote this amount of time, energy and resources talking about a frivolity and abandoning serious matters with strategic negative impacts on the credibility and integrity of the Army”.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National director of media Miss Zainab Yusuf, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said if the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army could spend such quality time it does on frivolous matters that lacks National importance and concentrated on eradication of the application and enforcement of the use of torture and extrajudicial executions of innocent citizens by soldiers as have happened in many parts of South East recently and even compiled by different groups including the United Kingdom based Amnesty International, the Nigerian Army could have successfully eradicated or minimised the menace of professional misconduct and criminality being committed by some soldiers during internal security operations.
HURIWA recalled that no fewer than 10 persons were feared dead, few weeks ago as soldiers clashed with youths of Umuokwu Izombe community in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State.
About 12 houses including the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Pius Muforo were reportedly burnt and 15 others destroyed.
One Catherine Okebata and C. A. Onyeukwu were said to be among those whose houses were reportedly burnt.
HURIWA gathered that trouble started when soldiers in the area had a misunderstanding with some youths of the community over crude oil bunkering activities. Bunkering activities are said to be on the increase in Izombe Eziorsu and Osobodo lately. According to a source in the area, soldiers at the heat of the misunderstanding allegedly shot and killed a youth of community whose name was given as Chukwunonso Iherue. Angered by the incident, the youths were said to have mobilized and attacked the soldiers, resulting in the alleged killing of two soldiers and burning of vehicles. The soldiers, it was gathered reinforced and stormed the community in a reprisal attack and allegedly burnt houses
Similarly, video that has now gone viral on social media shows Nigerian soldiers shooting indiscriminately at residents of Ochokwu village in the Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Another of such dastardly criminal act by soldiers was also seen happened in another viral video from a community in Enugu State just as the Army said they were in hot pursuit of a member of the Eastern Security Network.
The Rights group condemns the military and its penchant for chasing after non strategic issues of private romance shown on photo posted on social media between a female soldier and a NYSC corps member instead of strengthening the capacity of the internal investigation mechanisms of the Nigerian Army to professionally deal with severe cases that dovetail into grave human rights violations such as the attacks by soldiers to some communities in Enugu, Imo and Ebonyi states with evidential proofs that went viral on social media.
“The military authority has continued to behave like it is not aware that members of the public are complaining bitterly about a lot of cases of gross misconduct and criminality by soldiers including the violent killing of the Son of a policeman by soldiers in Edo State, the use of mass murder and attacks of civilian targets in their attempts to inflict revenge. The Chief of Army Staff must keep to his initial pledge to respect the human rights of citizens. These acts of criminality are the reason most people believed that repentant boko haram terrorists were recruited into the Army and deployed to the South East of Nigeria”.