Soldiers brutality: the beautiful or ugly saga

When I heard the story of Amari Sunday, I was not sure whether I should laugh or feel sad. For those who do not know Amari, he was the young man who was brutalized by a female cadet and four of her colleagues. His ordeal was captured in a video which went viral last week. When the story went viral, what Nigerians saw was the female operative stomping on Sunday and dragging him like a sack of potato by the scruff of his neck.

The story then was that he had complemented the female cadet about her beauty which had angered the later. She had then descended on him and equally invited four of her colleagues to join her to discipline the ‘bloody civilian’. The incident sparked outrage with a lot of people wondering why a simple complement could cause such inhuman treatment. Sunday who said he was engaged by Sure-P recreational department as a parks and recreation officer (some accounts said he is security guard) at Jabi Lake park, Abuja at the time of the incident, has since revealed what really transpired more than a year ago, when the incident occurred.

According to him, the Cadets were ‘dealing’ with another ‘bloody civilian’ at the time and in the course of moving around, he got to the scene. When the cadets saw him looking at what was happening, he also became a victim. One of them beckoned on him and told him to join the party by first of all engaging in an endurance test. He was told to cover the lengthy distance where they were standing in five seconds. In spite of his effort, he could not meet the target, even if he had met the target, it would not have saved him from the certain punishment already planned for him.

The lady cadet who was slapping him repeatedly said the distance should again be covered in three seconds, of course, he was no Carl Lewis, a Ben Johnson or Usain Bolt, ( I doubt whether those world class sprinters would have been able to meet that target too) and he failed woefully. The lady who was later joined by the other cadets then started slapping him for disobeying ‘ a lawful order’ from an officer. It was in the process of this punishment that the lady asked him to look at her- all the while the beating was going on, he could not summon the courage to look the young soldiers in the face. After taking a quick glance, she now asked him whether she was beautiful or not. Not knowing what could further aggravate his situation, he attested to her world class beauty. His answer enraged her further and another round of beating started, she called on her colleagues to come and hear the bloody civilian and also partake in the target practice. They all descended on him. The same question was again posed to him. Realizing that his first answer had elicited so much violence on his person- he had started bleeding from the nose, ears and mouth- he replied that she was ugly since his first answer didn’t sit too well on her. This further led to more brutal attacks on his person.

Sunday’s case is not new, there have been instances of brutality against civilians by members of the armed forces. In December last year, the Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode apprehended two air force cadets who were brutalizing an artisan accused of breaking the windscreen of their vehicle.

After dragging him on the ground, the two air force cadets had locked him up in the boot of their car before the governor’s convoy happened on the scene. Around August last year, a national newspaper had published the picture of a civilian stripped naked by some soldiers in Nyanya-Abuja, Abuja. He was told to ‘swim’ inside a sewage and further roll on the floor. Though the Nigerian Army wadded into the matter, promising to mete out appropriate punishment to the soldiers, that was the last heard of the matter. In Lagos last year, a drunken police man had shot two brothers and their friend to death in an hotel before killing himself.

All the above have shown that members of the Armed forces have not accepted that we are in a democratic setting where the rules of the gun no longer reigns. This is why it is important that examples be made of the cadets that brutalized Sunday. No matter how long it takes, the perpetrators should be fished out and punished for that act. For Sunday, he should have gone to court to demand for compensation for this violation of his rights, maybe if the Nigerian Army had been forced to cough out a huge compensation, it would have found a way to curtail the excesses of its operatives.

This should even be the course of action by anybody brutalized by any member of the uniformed forces- though it is always said that it is not the person hit by a car that would still remember to take the registration of the offending vehicle, but it is important for civilians not to always take such punishments without a whimper. It is by taking action that such incidents can be nipped in bud. As at the time of this report, if Sunday is to be believed, the army authority, is yet to contact or apologise to him for what happened. He however said he had since forgiven his assailants. And therein lies the problem. Although it is the ‘Christianly’ thing to do-to forgive, this will not stop the harassment of civilians by members of the armed forces if examples are not made of the offending officials. So turning the other cheek is not the best option for Sunday. The law should have been allowed to take its course.

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