The Armed Forces and the Rest of Us

Feb 13, 2016

Recently, the social media and a national newspaper were awash with pictures of a civilian being brutalised by a female soldier and her colleagues. They slapped him, hit him and dragged him all over the ground. His crime was that he complimented the female soldier, telling her how beautiful she looked.
Rather than returning the compliment and moving on, the female soldier decided to turn the young man into a punching bag as though he were a common criminal.
Although the incident had taken place a long time before the pictures went viral on the social media, the brutality exhibited against the young man disgusted all those who watched the pictures.
The disgust shown by Nigerians no doubt arose from similar brutalities against innocent civilians in the past by people who are supposed to be not only protecting them, but being their friends.
Indeed, stories of the contemptuous attitude of army, police, naval and air force officials on civilians are many. This has created a sour and suspicious relationship between the civilian population and members of the armed forces, such that it is even impeding efforts at crime fighting, given the reluctance of the general public to freely give information when required to any of those groups.
Cases abound where informants were treated like the criminal suspects they were reporting, thus people have learnt to mind their business rather than fall into the hands of uncivil members of the armed forces.
The same officers have been known to shoot innocent civilians in what has been coined ''accidental discharge'' in these parts. Often times the shootings are linked to the refusal of the victims to yield to extortion. Despite widespread condemnations against this phenomenon and the so-called punishment of the culprits, it has continued.
As if buoyed by the kid-glove treatment given to the culprits, members of the armed forces have become emboldened to continue harassing the civilian population. It has become as if wearing a uniform confers on them the right to lord it over others unfortunate not to wear same uniform. It is therefore, not surprising that a female soldier will gleefully assault a civilian for daring to compliment her.
In civilised climes, members of the armed forces respect the civilians whose taxes are used to maintain them. They treat them courteously and those who default are severely punished.
We therefore call on the federal government of Nigeria under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari to put a full final stop to this nonsense of brutality by those in uniform against hapless civilians.
They should focus on their designated jobs of keeping the peace and protecting the nation rather than treat the civilian population as the enemy.
Those involved in this ignoble act should not only be punished but be dismissed as such behaviour is not acceptable.



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