The Nigeria Army’s high command has defended the recent arrest of the popular Nollywood actor Mr. Chinwetalu Agu for adorning the Biafran apparel just as the Army denied accusations of torturing the famous actor.
The Nigeria Army’s response sent to the National Coordinator of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko was dated November 4th 2021 and endorsed by Brigadier General L.T Omoniyi for the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya.
Specifically, the Nigeria Army was responding to a protest letter sent to the Army Chief of Staff by the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) titled; “letter of protest on maltreatment of Actor Chinwetalu Agu” dated 8th October 2021.
The Nigeria Army in it’s reply stated as follows.
- “I am directed to acknowledge your letter dated 8 October 2021 on above mentioned subject. I am further directed to inform you, that your concerns have been duly noted by the Nigerian Army.
However, the NA has not violated any constitutional provisions on torture. It is important to point out that the NA in line with the Constitution can perform certain roles such as arrest and investigation, if it is in defence of the welfare of the entire citizenry. In that light and taking into consideration the nature of the security situation in the Country, the actions of Chiwetalu Agu adorning himself with the flag of a proscribed group is capable of sparking controversies that could endanger safety and security loss of lives and property. It is pertinent to be reminded about the many atrocities committed by this proscribed group in recent times such as the unwarranted and selective attacks on security personnel and facilities as well as the Sit at Home Order which its leaders have constantly initiated.
- Deriving from this narrative, it must be unambiguously stated that there is no law that restricts the NA in circumstances of security breach, from arresting a suspect and conducting investigations and thereafter releasing or handing over such suspect to the Nigeria Police for further investigation where necessary. In this case, Chiwetalu Agu was arrested, investigated and subsequently released. The NA is a respecter of human rights and due process and would never succumb to any form of impunity.
- Please accept the esteemed regards of the best wishes of the Chief of Army Staff.
HURIWA had protested as follows:
This is to register our strong protest over the physical torture, maltreatment and denial of RIGHTS TO DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON that was unleashed on the popular Nigerian Actor Sir Chiwetalu Agu by the Nigeria Army troop in Onitsha, Anambra State, South East of Nigeria.
We write this petition to particularly disagree with the statement publicly made by the spokesman of the Defence headquarters to the effect that the said Nollywood Actor was dehumanized because he allegedly advertises for the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for putting on a clothe that has the flag of the defunct Biafra Republic.
Sir, the Nigeria Army is an institution created by law and the Army is not above the law. It is unacceptable that the Army General who spoke for the Defence headquarters has given the impression that physical, psychological torture of alleged offender (assuming without conceding) is permissible under the Army’s rules of engagement.
Sir in 2017, Nigeria passed a law against torture. Nigerian constitution in chapter 4 is against torture. The Army tortured Chiwetalu Agu and these infractions must never be swept under the carpets so the Army is not accused of tolerating impunity.
We pray you to deploy an internal resolution mechanism to provide relief and redress to the victim of Army brutality Chiwetalu Agu.
As a Civil Rights body, we know that the Army is not a body that is created to torture citizens even if they are in conflict with the law. Moreover, what choice of clothe someone wears is not an item of the law. The colours of the defunct Biafra is not illegal just as wearing Arab clothes in Nigeria is not an offence.
We await your rapid action so the impression that some persons are bigger than the law is wiped away.
You would recall that the Kaduna based Islamic cleric Sheikh Gumi openly campaigns for those the government classified as bandits and even met them in the forests, but the Army has not called him in for questioning.
Why does the Nigerian Army believe that wearing one’s choice of clothes with certain colouration is against the law but it is not an offence for Gumi to consistently champion the cause of armed bandits?