Some Lagos residents expressed outrage over a footage showing a man dressed in a military uniform, identified simply as Duru, assaulting a driver on Moloney Street on the Lagos Island.
In the footage, which has generated reactions on social media, the soldier, who was alleged to have driven against the traffic, could be seen blocking the road and later hitting the vehicle of the motorist he assaulted.
While some people have asked the victim to seek redress in the court of law, others said the soldier should be identified and dismissed.
A lady, who filmed the scene while in the victim’s vehicle, could be heard crying as the soldier was beating up the driver.
The soldier, after brutalising the driver in the car, was joined by two others outside.
They punched the driver and booted him several times till he fell.
The footage was captioned, “This happened around 5.16pm on Moloney Street, Lagos Island, opposite the Police Office/Kam Salem House. We were on the right side of the road coming from Obalende, but had to stop as there was an oncoming vehicle on our way. This vehicle should have been on the left side.
“We hooted several times but the vehicle refused to move. We then heard other disgruntled drivers murmur(ing), ‘na soldier oh’, and so we reversed in an attempt to wriggle our way out peacefully.
“But to our surprise, the soldier reversed and intentionally drove forward to hit our car. These videos show the altercation right from when we were wrongly hit.”
The soldier was said to have driven a Honda Acura with number plate, Oyo AE 996 YYY.
A human rights activist, Segun Awosanya, who reposted the footage on his Twitter handle, demanded that the soldiers should be identified and made to answer for their crime in a telephone conversation with PUNCH Metro.
The lawyer insisted that such an action would serve as a deterrent to others.
Awosanya said, “I have reported the matter to the appropriate authorities; the military will respond to it and will make the soldiers to answer to their crime. That is not the protocol for any officer whatsoever; the uniform does not make you better, bigger or more important than any other person. Rather, it makes you responsible; it makes you to exercise restraint and it makes you to act with discipline.
“So when you are wearing the uniform, there are some things that are expected of you. The soldier driver broke the law, in the process, something happened and he decided to lash out at the civilian; that is not done and that should not be accepted.
“It is unacceptable, it is abhorrent and it is something that has to be dealt with to send a message to other people, who may want to do a similar thing. And from the few people that I have reached out to, we will make sure that justice is served.”
A PUNCH Online reader with the alias, Aare, said the soldier and his colleagues should be tried for assault.
The reader stated, “This is why this country can absolutely be described as a shithole by foreign observers. Majority of Nigerians are using a caveman or hunter/gatherer mentality to exist in a modern world, so how can anything work?
“Anomaly 1: A soldier is driving against (the) traffic in his personal car. Why? Because, he is a soldier and considers himself above the law.
“Anomaly 2: He is breaking the law right in front of a police formation and the police are indifferent. Why? Because the Nigeria Police doesn’t care about enforcing the law
“Anomaly 3: Soldiers can damage innocent civilians’ property and brutalise them at will. Why? Because, innocent Nigerians have virtually no rights.
“Nigerians should demand the immediate dismissal of this ‘animal in human skin’ from the army and his trial for assault, with full restitution for the victim. And the army authorities must oblige if they are to prove that they are not all animals but officers and gentlemen!”
Another reader, with the alias, MeTM, said, “Nigeria is one of the countries where the citizens are so scared of the soldiers, who are meant to protect them. I mean, why are you a soldier? As a uniformed person, if citizens (usually civilians) are not a threat to your life or the lives of others at any particular time, you are supposed to protect them and not be an object of fear to them. Almost everything in this country has gone wrong. It’s a pitiful situation.”
An Instagram user, @knowledgeworldwide, said Nigeria was gradually getting to the level where uniforms would not mean much anymore.
One anna_staciaa said uniformed men were one of the problems of Nigeria.
She wrote, “Our military counterparts abroad, who truly serve their nations and make all the sacrifices, don’t treat civilians this way. They remain law-abiding and respectful to those around them.
“But these hopeless chaffs we have here, who constantly vent their frustration on unsuspecting civilians/victims, are one of the problems we have in Nigeria. Their end is near.”
The Nigerian Army, however, said investigation had commenced to identify the errant soldier.
The General Officer Commanding, 81 Division, Maj. Gen. Musa Yusuf, said, “Intelligence and Military Police commanders are handling that. We are trying to trace the soldier to know where he is serving.”
The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority’s spokesperson, Mahmud Hassan, said the suspected soldier would be made to face the law if the agency could find enough evidence to prove that he drove against the traffic.
Hassan lamented the challenge LASTMA personnel were facing in apprehending members of the armed forces, who violate traffic laws.
He said, “The Lagos State Traffic Law does not make provision for anybody, irrespective of their position or status, to violate the law. We implement the law to prevent anarchy on the roads.
“However, we have a little challenge with arresting the men in uniform. On many occasions, our officers have been brutalised and intimidated by them. But we enjoy good support from the top hierarchy of the military.
“So, what we do when we have this kind of situation is to collate our evidence, which we forward to their provost marshal or military police, and we have seen how they deal with such cases, using their own rules within the confines of their barracks.
“We will activate our team to study the footage you are talking about. If we have enough information to enable us to identify the culprit and the vehicle involved, we will submit it to the military authorities to act on.”