Seeking Justice for Dehumanized Female Corps Member, Fidelia!!!

By Uche Amunike

We saw the video of a young girl kneeling down in the complete uniform of the National Youth Service Corps. Standing before her was another female in the complete uniform of the Nigerian army. These two ladies were in different uniforms representing different institutions in Nigeria, but one of them was humiliating or succinctly put, dehumanizing the other one.

While the one in the army uniform was pouring dirty muddy water on the one in the NYSC uniform, other people stood and watched. Thankfully, as is now the custom in Nigeria, somebody was recording the shameful act.  Eventually the video went viral as expected and caught the attention of the Nigerian Army authorities.

Well as is expected, necessary damage control was done as the Director of Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu,   issued a statement condemning the conduct of the Army officer. He described her conduct as condemnable, unprofessional and totally against the established precepts of discipline in the armed forces.

He also assured Nigerians that the Army respects the fundamental human rights of the citizens of this country and therefore, were not in support of the gross misconduct of the young lady who was actually a very junior officer. A Lieutenant!!! He apologized to the victim, to her family, to the NYSC, to her friends and to Nigerians generally.

He also promised that the matter was being investigated and that the culprit will be made to go through trial according to what the provisions of the armed forces act allows. That was good. He knows his job. He did the right thing. That is what is expected of him, especially in our Nigeria of today where  people are becoming more and more aware of their rights.

The painful thing however is that the 33 Brigade where the incident took place in Calabar has up till now, not found it necessary to issue a similar statement to either the victim or her family or even to Nigerians who witnessed that show of shame.

What their officer did was abominable and was largely condemned by Nigerians from all parts of the world and yet, they were not moved to even tender a simple apology to either the girl or to Nigerians. The officer in question has not as much as made any attempt to apologise to the young girl. In fact it would have been the first thing I expected her to do.

You know each time I watch that video, I feel pain. Why has the 33 Brigade not uttered a word concerning that abominable show of shame by their very junior officer. You see, most times we sit in the comfort of our homes and complain about governors and even our good old Buhari.

It’s very easy judging people for the littlest of mistakes and wrongdoings. But when we see ourselves in the corridors of even the littlest power, we turn to beasts!!!

You know, I had to watch that video over and over again and each time, I saw sheer evil in the Army lieutenant. In her body language. In her speech. In her actions!!! Sheer evil. She was filled with this calculated meanness in her. I actually lack words to explain it. She was deliberate in her actions. She was determined to inflict physical, psychological, emotional and mental scars on the young Fidelia.

First of all she tells her to kneel down, obviously to humble her before the humiliation and dehumanization stage. I felt bad after each time I viewed the video clip. I was sad that a woman had to receive that kind of inhuman treatment from her fellow gender.  It was also sad and infact, a real national shame seeing that both women were wearing uniforms which are symbols of authority for two different institutions in the country.

They were both representatives of two formidable institutions in our dear country. One was the Nigerian Army while the other was the NYSC. Where is the mutual respect for both uniforms or institutions if I may? That apart, I looked at the wicked manner in which she perpetrated her act of dehumanization on the young girl.

She made sure she opened her shirt at a point and then poured the muddy water right inside her shirt, when she got tired of pouring it all over her head and so much had entered every part of her body. At a point she slapped her.  Through all these humiliating, degrading and demeaning acts, she kept on talking down on her, treating her like an animal.

I watched the video again and the young Fidelia, still on her knees with her eyes closed and taking in all the humiliation without saying a word, like an animal about being slaughtered. I don’t know if there is anything more humiliating than this. Honestly. My question remains, what did she do wrong? What was her crime? I was made to understand they had an argument and that was it.

Then she vowed to ‘show’ her that she has the power to treat her as she pleased. You see, that is the mindset of most of us here in Nigeria. And yet we sit in the comfort of our homes and condemn the Boko Haram sect. We condemn the unknown gunmen and we condemn herdsmen also, as if we are better than them. It is indeed sad, that up till now, Miss Ezeiruaku Fidelia  has not gotten any justice.

It will be a real shame if the right authorities do not seek justice for that girl. I do not know who she is or what kind of family she comes from but no family should accept such a situaation without trying to fight back. The young girl has spoken out and said that all the associations and individuals that jumped out then and said they will help her have done nothing to help.

She mentioned that the Minister of Women Affairs who also said she will help her seek justice has done nothing until now. This is an appeal to well-meaning Nigerians who have the power to fight for justice for the downtrodden. It is a call to Civil Liberty Organizations, Human Right Activists,  journalists, etc. It is a time to be the conscience of the people and to be the voice of the voiceless. Fidelia Ezeiruaku deserves Justice.

Where are all the people who condemned this act when it happened? This is time for you to stand up and fight for her. She’s an innocent  girl. A victim of circumstance. She may not have the money to afford a lawyer. It is easy to reach out to her. Please, let Nigerians lend their voices to this girl’s plight. She needs our help to get justice. It could be your child or sister tomorrow. If you can, please speak up for Fidelia!!!