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The Onitsha Savagery And The True Face Of The Nigerian Army, By Charles Ogbu

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The Onitsha Savagery And The True Face Of The Nigerian Army, By Charles Ogbu

The Onitsha Savagery And The True Face Of The Nigerian Army, By Charles Ogbu

NEWISSUES, Abuja 

Less than 48hours after a video emerged of a crippled man confined to a wheelchair being forcefully dragged on the ground and mercilessly gifted with a very serious beating after having his wheelchair thrown away by two red beret-wearing personnel of the Nigerian army, all for wearing a military camouflage at old market road Onitsha, the Nigerian army has come out with a statement claiming that the culprits have been arrested and would be punished.

Ordinarily, the army statement should have been enough to calm freyed nerves and re-assure everyone that the Nigerian army has zero tolerance for acts of savagery by its men but considering the many documented cases of barbarism carried out by the Lt.Gen.Tukur Yusuf Buratai-led army with reckless impunity, it will be the height of naivety to take the word of this same army concerning the Onitsha incident on face value.

First, it is on record that the Nigerian army is almost always very reckless, unprofessional, high handed and brutal when dealing with civilians. Almost every encounter between the army and unarmed Nigerians have always ended in bloodbath and we know who always fall the victims. Matter of fact, it is beginning to seem as though there is a very big price the Nigerian army would be gifted with if it succeeds in killing more Nigerians than the boko haram and fulani terrorist groups combined.

More worrisome is the fact that the army has left no one in doubt that of all the principles it was built on, punishing one of its own found to have brutalized or killed civilians isn’t among those principles. I’ve got instances to support this assertion.

Perhaps, it would have been less appalling if the cases of savagery established so far against the army were carried out by rank and file soldiers within its fold but sadly, this is hardly the case as most of these acts of barbarism were actually commited by senior officers including the army chief himself with the army authorities and the commander-in-chief either outrightly attempting to justify them or cover them up.

I wish this wasn’t true but sadly, it is.

Let’s take this Onitsha incident for instance:

The two soldiers who assaulted the crippled man weren’t the regular soldiers. They are from the red beret-wearing unit known as the (MP) Military Police. In the military, military police is regarded as one of the best trained, most disciplined unit. Yet, two soldiers from this so called best disciplined unit of soldiers saw nothing wrong in vandalizing the wheelchair of a disabled man, forcefully dragging him on the ground before assaulting him in full glare of the public A disabled man…..a crippled man confined to the wheelchair!!! (If you haven’t seen this video, it is still on my wall)

These soldiers knew that some person(s) somewhere might be recording this horrible act but they continued anyway.

They continued because they knew that the worst thing that could happen was for Nigerians to express outrage which would force their superiors to summon them and announce to the ever gullible Nigerians that they have arrested the soldiers involved and would ensure they are punished. And fiam!, the matter don close. Few days after that, they would just go back to their business of inflicting pains on innocent people leaving Nigerians believing they have indeed been punished. Our Brown envelope-chasing journalists would never follow up on the case. And that would be the end.

Judging by this thing called precedence, I can bet that no one will be punished for that morally despicable incident.

No be Nigerian army again?

The same army that killed approximately 1000 Shiite Muslims in kaduna right there in the presence of its own boss, Tukur Buratai, supposedly for blocking his convoy and even proceeded to the house of the Shiites leader, Alzakzakky where they killed more, mostly women and children. (Kaduna state govt admitted burying 347 of them in a mass grave) Even if we pretend to agree that those killed on the road were killed for blocking the army chief, (never mind that a former president, Goodluck Jonathan was once pelted with stones by Bauchi youths with his security detail shooting no one) those women and children killed at the home of the Shiite leader, did they also block the army chief’s convoy???

As I type this, no single soldier has been punished for that grave moral tragedy despite the recommendation of the Kaduna state panel of enquiry and the internal investigation carried out by the army itself.

Is this the same army we are trusting to punish the uniformed animals that attacked the disabled Onitsha man??

The same army that murdered hundreds of unarmed pro-Biafra activists inside a church in Onitsha on May 29-30th and bathed the survivors with acid and still went ahead to burn the bodies of the victims and bury the rest in a secret mass grave to cover their crime, according to a detailed report released by Amnesty International, is it this same army we are trusting to gift the disabled Onitsha man with justice?

The IPOB massacre was investigated by both the Military intelligence, military police and Army legal services and each of these separate investigations all indicted the OC MP in 302AR Onitsha, Major TO Ibrahim who led the operation. And each of these investigations established that almost all the pro-Biafran guys killed were shot from behind which indicates that they were running for their dear lives when they were shot and couldn’t have posed any threats to anyone contrary to the claim by Major TO Ibrahim that they killed the IPOB guys in self defense.

One of the investigators described the IPOB massacre as “hate induced”. All these and much more are contained in that report.

As I type this, the Nigerian army has refused to either release the said report or act on it by punishing even a single soldier for the needless bloodbath.

A national army, not a terrorist group, murdering its own citizens with guns bought with their own tax money and bathing survivors with acid and the leadership of this army still refusing to punish those responsible even after establishing the whole facts surrounding the horrible incident.

What does this indicate?

Don’t bother. I will tell you:

It indicates that the leadership of that army fully approve of the beastly action of those soldiers who committed the above clear act of savagery against the IPOB activists the same way it fully endorsed the massacre of the Shiites.

As an army leadership, if your men go out of your command to do something so despicable,and you refuse to punish them to serve as as a deterrence to others, it simply means you are in support of that despicable actions of your men, in which case, it is very logical, reasonable and fair to directly blame you for the crime because these soldiers work under your command.

It is often said that there are no bad soldier. Only bad officers. Because if the officers are good, they will inculcate that good into their men.

The refusal of the leadership of the Nigerian army to punish any of its officers and men for several documented cases of human right abuse and outright cases of extrajudicial killings lends strong credence to the belief in some quarters that Barbarians, Vampires and all sort of criminal elements have since taken over the Nigerian army.

This is the internet age. And millions of people from the outside world are watching us. The IPOB massacre was documented by Amnesty International with video evidence. Several months later, the Nigerian army has refused to punish any of its men for that barbaric act. This Onitsha incident video got over 2000 views the day I posted it. People will see the video and conclude that our army is filled with monsters. My baby sister is in the army. She too will be looked upon as a monster, to my eternal shame.

Now, ask yourself: If the army had acted on previous cases against its men, would Nigerians have chosen the path of bringing similar cases to the court of public opinion on social media or would they have gone straight to the army authorities with this video??

Most importantly, would the army have even issued a statement if this video hadn’t gone viral??

We need to dump political correctness in the refuse dump where it belong and hurt our soldiers with the truth here. We have comforted them with lies for far too long.

Nigerian army is mostly peopled by poorly lettered, poorly trained, poorly equipped sadists who have no regards whatsoever for civilians with whose tax monies their uniforms and equipment were all purchased. The average Nigerian soldier has ‘God complex’. He sees himself not as a servant to the civilians but as some kind of a God who must be obeyed and worshiped by all these “bloody civilians”.

I am no psychiatrist but I can reasonably opine without fear of contradiction that reasonable percent of our soldiers are in dire need of the services of first class psychiatrists. A man whose head is not doing break and quench will never assault a disabled man as we witnessed in that video. And if the army want to heed this advice, it should start with its boss, Tukur Buratai. A sane army chief will never supervise the killing of hundreds of his own people by his own soldiers as he did with the Shiites at a time when his country was not at war.

If the truth hurts, then that’s all the more reason we should hear it.

The culture of impunity has been so entrenched in the Nigerian army. It would seem to me that impunity is the very oxygen which the Nigerian army breathes for survival.

The earlier we stop living in denial and admit that something is fundamentally wrong with the thought process of an average Nigerian army personel and work towards total re-orientation for all members of the Nigerian armed forces, the better for the rest of us.

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