…Sympathises with victims of attack

By Henry Uche

Global Rights has urged the Nigerian Army to withdraw its trucks and personnel from Banex Plaza, Abuja, and allow businesses to resume unhindered.

In a statement signed and delivered by the Executive Director of Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu, the Group demanded also that the Nigerian Army should immediately release those arrested in relation to the events of May 18th at Banex Plaza, or at best, hand all suspects over to the Police for interrogation and possible prosecution.

On May 18 2024, officers of the Nigerian Army laid siege to the aforem plaza with their trucks parked outside the gate, turning what is known as a hub of commercial activity into a belligerent scene. This was following an attack on the army personnel. To this end, officers have prevented business owners who operate out of the plaza and those who wish to patronize them from accessing the premises.

Responsibly, Global Rights (Advocates For Sustainable Justice) has conveyed its sympathy over the attack Nigerian Army personnel suffered at Banex, but ask them not to further compound the tragedy by punishing a large swath of law-abiding Nigerians for the actions of a misguided few.

The Group demanded the Army to issue a public apology to all whose rights were unfairly and unlawfully infringed upon by its personnel in relation to the events at the Plaza, and ensure that it covers the cost of treatment for the woman who was assaulted and fell into a coma.

“We condemn the Nigerian Army’s reprisal actions following mob assault on its personnel. We must remember that the Guardians of the Law Must not be Above the Law”

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“We are appalled by the brazen extrajudicial siege around Banex Plaza, Wuse II, Abuja by officers of the Nigerian Army from Saturday, May 18, 2024, till date; and demands the sanctioning and immediate recall of officers involved in this condemnable intimidation of the public.

“We recognise the incredible sacrifices our men and women in Uniform undertake in our collective defense, and strongly condemn the unfortunate attack on two non-belligerent army officers by a group of traders at Banex Plaza, which led to the reprisal action by officers of the army”

The Group reminded the Army that they are constitutionally bound to obey the rule of law, therefore they emphatically called out the inordinate show of force and brutality, saying, “We unequivocally condemn the senseless attack”

Baiyewu stressed that Army’s action violates the rights of many law-abiding Nigerians who rely solely on earnings from their businesses to make ends meet. “Articles 6(1) and 7 of the International Covenant of the Economic Social Cultural Rights, which Nigeria is a signatory to, provide that Nigerians have a right to work and earn an honest living. The Nigerian Army should therefore not be an obstacle to people enjoying this right.

“Other human rights violated by personnel of the Nigerian Army in furtherance of this siege on Banex Plaza include assault on a non-belligerent passer-by who resultantly fell into a coma; in addition, a shop owner, Caleb Onyemaeachi Chidera, was arrested and tortured by Army personnel on Monday.

“No evidence has been adduced to suggest that these two people were in any way involved in the attack on the two Army officers last Saturday. The Nigerian Army is not imbued with the authority to conduct reprisals under the guise of carrying out a criminal investigation to uncover the soldiers’ attackers. The task of investigating is best left to the police force which by law is entrusted with this task, and the task of prosecuting the perpetrators.

“Guided by the Armed Forces Act, it should be apparent to all, including the Armed Forces that the Act does not imbue the Army with authority to undertake reprisals under the guise of carrying out criminal investigations.

“Rather, Section 4 of the Police Act 2020 empowers the Nigerian Police Force with the authority to detect, prevent crime, and arrest offenders. While the Army, in this instance, can work within the ambit of the law to provide support to the Police with information from the officers who were the victims of the assault, they are ultimately not empowered to carry out this crucial law enforcement function” they added.

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