Army Institutes Board of Inquiry to Try Soldiers for Brutalisation

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Chiemelie Ezeobi

For attacking and brutalising some of the residents of Makoko area, the 81 Division Headquarters of the Nigerian Army (NA) yesterday instituted a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to investigate the incident and recommend necessary punishment.

Following their alleged misdemeanor, policemen attached to Yaba Police Division had arrested two of the 16 soldiers that invaded the community, Privates Ihama Osaretin and Okpor Ray. Although they were not the only ones that stormed the waterside community to attack the residents, they were however the only two arrested.
Addressing journalists yesterday at 81 Division Headquarters, Victoria Island, Lagos, the General Officer Commanding 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Edeth Isidore, said the army would go after other soldiers who participated in the attack.

The GOC, who spoke through the Assistant Director Army Public Relations (DAPR), Lieutenant Commander, Kingsley Samuel, said the board of inquiry would kickstart investigations.

Eddy who was reacting to a THISDAY report of the act carried out by the soldiers at the Makoko waterside community, said the findings would determine the punishment to be meted out to the soldiers.

The board, according to him, would seat for three weeks within which it is expected to also find out, among other things, whether the soldiers were on official duty in the area where the incident occurred, before turning in its report to the army authority.

General Isidore, who said the alleged incident was a highly regrettable one, added that it was particularly worrisome now that the division, in conjunction with other security agencies, with full cooperation of the civil populace were consolidating on the gains of successfully dislodging pipeline vandals and criminal elements in Ibafo and Arepo areas of Lagos and Ogun States.

He said: “81 Division frowns at this unfortunate incident and wishes to assure the general public that this unlawful act will not go unpunished if the soldiers are found culpable
“The demonstration of the existing inter-agency cooperation between the Division and other security agencies, Lagos State Police Command has handed over the two soldiers allegedly involved in this unlawful act for investigation.
“Both soldiers are in 81 Division custody after they were handed over by the police.
One of them who sustained injury is receiving treatment

“The division remains committed to its task as part of the constitutional mandate of the Nigerian Army, while urging members of the public to also be law abiding.” THISDAY had earlier reported that the rampaging soldiers, numbering about 16, had gone to the community in a rage, beating up anyone they set their eyes on. Although the bartered residents initially fled their community, they were said to have later regrouped and confronted the soldiers armed with dangerous weapons such as axes, broken bottles, iron rods, woods and cudgel. When they attempted to overpower the soldiers, 16 of them succeeded in fleeing to safety, leaving two others behind at the mercy of the angry residents who unleashed terror on them.