Shock and outrage have continued to trail a trending video, which shows about five soldiers shooting a suspected Boko Haram member eight times before burying him in a shallow grave. The video, which came online yesterday, forced the Nigerian Army to quickly come up with a statement, vowing to investigate the matter and ensure the soldiers involved are punished. The two minutes video shows a soldier untying a near naked man, tied to the back of a van.
The van is painted in military colour. The victim’s hands and legs were bound. His hands were tied behind. The video shows four soldiers in camouflage uniform, apart from the fifth person recording the incident. After the soldier untied the victim, he dragged him out of the van, forcing the victim to land heavily on the ground. The place was a sandy area covered with green foliage. The soldier dragged the victim on the ground, while he writhed in pains.
The soldier dragged the victim to where another soldier was busy digging a grave, apparently meant for the victim.
A voice speaking in Yoruba and pidgin English is heard in the background saying: “I left my place to come and meet you. Oga leave him; let them beat him, so that he would feel the pains. Let him die! God will punish you! It is because of you that we left our town and place; it will not be well with you. God will punish you; you’ll see soldiers, you’ll slaughter them. Look at me, I’m from Epe. I came all the way from Epe to Maduiguri. Is Maduiguri my state?”
While the camera was still rolling, another soldier came to join the first and they both dragged the victim on the ground. His head soon started bleeding. In the midst of the pulling and dragging, a voice was heard sharply saying: “Don’t fire him yet!” The Yoruba speaking voice retorted: “Let him fire him!” The victim was dumped in the fresh grave with his hands and legs still tied. The soldiers opened fire, shooting at close range.
The victim was shot eight times and then, a voice ordered: “It’s enough!” Reacting to the horrifying video, Executive Director of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okechukwu Nwanguma, said: “Whatever it is, except in the course of combat, or when the lives of security agents or those of others are under threat, there is no justification for executing suspects. It’s purely extrajudicial in its most barbaric and brutal form.”
Also, the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said in a statement that the incident would be investigated. He said:: “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to a video reportedly showing some NA personnel engaged in unprofessional torture and above all extra judicial killing of a suspected Boko Haram terrorist likely in the North East Theatre of Operation.
“The NA wishes to clearly and strongly condemn the action of those involved (whoever they may be) in the misconduct, and that the dastardly act is completely unacceptable, unethical and is against the cherished core values of the NA especially that of respect for others and their fundamental rights.
“NA training, Rules of Engagement and Standing Operating Procedures guiding the conduct of all her operations are unambiguous about human rights abuses and extra judicial actions including the rights of the arrested/captured terrorists/ combatants. “Troops in the various theatres of operations in Nigeria have been consistently warned to desist from rights infractions of any form no matter the amount of desperation, anger or provocation.
NA does not license, encourage or condone indiscipline, unprofessional conduct especially extra-judicial execution of suspects or combatants.
Whereever such is noticed or reported, once it is confirmed, appropriate decisive sanction or punishment is usually immediately meted out to the perpetrators and this case would never be an exception.” Musa explained that on seeing the video, the Army had commenced thorough investigation to apprehend the culprits with the aim to deal with them in accordance with the extant military justice system.
He added: “Members of the public will surely be informed of the results of the actions taken so far.” Musa said the Nigerian Army, as a responsible and law abiding organisation, would remain professional in the discharge of its constitutional roles and would continue to operate within the ambit of the law in line with the local and international best practices.