The Say No Campaign,a civil society organization has condemned the growing incidence of brutalization of unarmed Nigerians by security agents and paramilitary official. Jaiye Gaskiya and Ezenwa Nwagwu, co-conveners of the Say No Campaigner registered their protests at a press conference today after the shocking brutalization and arrest of Executive Director of the Civil Society legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa aka Rafsanjani in Abuja last Thursday.
They noted that even before now,“There have been several incidents of military men openly assaulting citizens with impunity and this act is totally uncalled for and should be condemned by well-meaning Nigerians.
“This case (arrest and torture of Rafsanjani) was greeted with wide condemnation and we are totally disappointed at the conduct of the naval officer and men of the AMAC Environmental Task Force.
“The Naval Officer, Petty Ayuba, the Naval authorities and indeed the FCT administration should realize that we are no longer in the military era where all sorts of atrocities were committed with flagrant impunity by security men and they went scot free.
Narrating the details of how the CISLAC boss was manhandled, the conveners said “the Executive Director of the Civil Society legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa aka Rafsanjani, .. was on the 1st August, 2013 manhandled, dragged ..on the floor and hit .. with clubs and cudgel and arrested by members of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board Task Force. The (incident) occurred within Abuja metropolis as he tried to intervene in defense of helpless individual harassed and assaulted by these brutal and power drunk paramilitary outfit who have constituted themselves into a Gestapo group in the purported bid to enforce environmental laws in the FCT.
They recalled several other cases of rights abuses by security officers including the naval officials. “In 2005, a certain trigger-happy and overzealous naval officer, Mr Felix Olanrewaju Odunlami was driving along the Allen roundabout in Ikeja, Lagos when a commercial motorcyclist popularly known as okada, Peter Edeh accidentally hit the naval officer’s car from behind with his motorcycle and upon the realization of his offence, he knelt down and begged the naval officer for forgiveness but the officer refused to be appeased. Instead, in anger, he reached out for his gun in his car, asked Peter to open his mouth and he shot him directly in his mouth resulting in his instant death. He killed him just because he mistakenly hit the naval officer’s car with his motorcycle. What justification can there ever be for this type of brutality, excessive anger and man’s inhumanity to man?
Also “On Tuesday 6th January 2013, at the Alegongo area of Akobo, Ibadan, Oyo State, some soldiers attached to the Oyo State government demolition task force brutally, almost fatally, assaulted a man who, being a media professional, had attempted to take snapshots of the demolition spree embarked upon by the soldiers as members of a task force ordered to bring down shops of traders who stood in the way of government’s city beautification effort. Mr Laolu Harolds, an Assistant Editor with the Nigerian Tribune, was on his way to work that Tuesday morning when he spotted the demolition effort and naturally thought to capture the scene on camera for publication”the Say No Campaign said, adding “Although Mr Harolds maintained a respectable distance by standing on the opposite side of the demolition scene, the soldiers were not impressed with his finesse.
“Having quickly charged and convicted him of the crime of being a hoodlum, the soldiers descended on him in droves, slapped, kicked and made him to roll on the floor, while lacerating his skin with a three-mouthed horse-whip. In a sheer display of sadistic pleasure, the soldiers repeatedly hit Mr Harolds on the head and, by the victim’s own account, “If I had not been defending my head, my face would have completely been distorted.” Their murderous urge satisfied, the brutes eventually released the reporter from their hold, seized his camera and ordered him “to run like a mad man.” By the time he was taken to the University College Hospital, Ibadan, doctors confirmed that, in addition to the many bruises in different parts of his body, he had sustained a rare fracture on his neck and was in need of urgent attention to prevent fatality.”
The group also kicked against cases of abuse and and rape of women “There are also reported cases of abuse of rape of women by the task force. This is usually done under the guise of branding them commercial sex workers. There was a pathetic case of where an innocent women having closed from her office was abducted when she stopped by for a transaction at an ATM machine. Several of such women when picked up on Friday evenings are forced to remain in detention until Monday and there have been several allegations of being subjected to rape and all forms of sexual abuse by their abductors who masquerade as Task Force members”
The group called on the National Human Rights Commission, the Navy and the FCT minister to investigate the cases of brutalization of of Nigerians.