The Oasis Reporters
February 26, 2018
The alleged involvement of some elements of the Nigerian Army in the illegal demolition of a property at No 11b Sambo Road in Kaduna leased to perhaps the authentic faction of the APC in the early hours of 20 February is still reverberating within the polity.
Not even during the darkest days of military dictatorship was such a move ever contemplated but it did happen in Kaduna. Some of us who from the benefit of having served in the military dismissed such a possibility on the grounds that the Military, our military is a frontline defender and guardian of our democracy therefore, to imagine that the same soldiers could be used to subvert democracy is the very height of absurdity.
Upon visiting the scene ( Ground Zero ) where the demolition took place, what I saw cast my mind to the continuing conflict in the Middle East between the State of Israel and their Palestinian neighbours. It is only the Israeli government that has approved of a policy of pulling down Palestinian homes when a terrorist act has occurred and the perpetrators traced to such a dwelling. Even so, the international community has taken an exception to such actions which are in pursuit of Israeli national security considerations.
Nigeria is not Israel and our parliament has not passed any law prescribing such an action against political opponents as far as I know.
When the news broke, some commentators outrightly were calling for the removal of the GOC 1 Mech Div headquartered in Kaduna but I argued against this sort of trial without giving the military an opportunity to state its case if any. A few days after the spokesman of HQ 1 Mech Div did offer a rebuttal in which he denied the involvement of soldiers of that formation. I took the view that this allegation is perhaps the most embarrassing since the unknown soldier episode of the 70s in which Fela’s Kalakuta Republic suffered a similar fate. Even so, that was during a military regime in which the phrase “Unknown soldier” became a convenient cover at that time of the incident for the men in uniform who carried it out.
We are now in a democracy in which there is no such impunity as existed in the military regimes of the 70s. In case the principal at who’s behest this illegality was carried out does not know, he should know that members of the Nigerian military are subject to both the laws of the land as well as Military Law. He must know too that he lured soldiers, that is assuming that those accused are actually bona fide members of the Nigerian Army.
If they are not, it then raises a bigger problem which is ” Where were those men in the uniform of the Nigerian Army procured from ?
Until those men in the uniform of the Nigerian Army are sorted out and made to account for their deeds, we may be heading towards more embarrassing situations. I expect that those involved if proven to be members of the Nigerian Army ought to have known that they cannot hide behind the cover of obeying superior orders. They are answerable for their actions. because they as soldiers are rational human beings and should discern between legal and illegal orders even if such came from their superiors.
More intriguing and perhaps embarrassing is the rebuttal from HQ 1 Mech Div with regard to the possibility that the soldiers who were deployed to give effect to the demolition exercise came from that formation. If the Nigerian Army is not utterly divastated by this action some of us who left service not long ago are.
Though still an allegation, I thought that the GOC needed to have immediately convened an inquiry to unearth the truth. The rebuttal therefore has fallen flat on its face. Failure to convene an inquiry by the GOC should automatically cause the Chief of Army Staff to convene one. It is very important for the Army to put the records straight particularly so that we are trudging to an election year in 2019 otherwise some people may go away with the wrong impression that the political playing field may not be even after all. I did make a suggestion that if indeed soldiers were. sighted at 11b Sambo Road while the demolition was underway that such could have been part of the military component of Operation Yaki, the State internal security outfit.
The 1999 Constitution as Amended in Section 217 Sub sections 2(c) and (d) does allow for the military to provide aid to civil authority for the purposes of maintaining law and order. It would appear that pulling down the property of political opponents surely does not find accommodation under the provision of the Sections mentioned above. The procedure under which serving military personnel are placed under the command of a retired officer is fraught with a lot of danger. If military personnel must be so deployed, they should be under the command of a serving, not a retired officer.
What played out at 11b Sambo Road verges on an attempt at dragging the military into the partisan and murky waters of Nigerian politics. This aberration must be properly investigated and appropriately sanctioned. Those currently enjoying immunity from prosecution should know that justice will be served whenever their tenure expires. I would rather that the Military is insulated from the partisanship to which some political rascals are desperately bent on doing. I wish our men and women in uniform well much in the same manner as I do the politicians.
Written by Gora Dauda.
Dauda is a retired military personnel who saw action internally and in peace keeping missions abroad.
He writes from Kaduna in north west Nigeria.