What looked like a normal day in Ibadan, Oyo State, turned out to be a nightmare in the early hours of 22nd of July 2012 at around 2.30am when about six soldiers of the Nigeria Army in uniform attached to the PHCN Capital Building at Ring Road Ibadan went berserk on an unprovoked savage brutalisation of Mr Akintokunbo Adejumo, a community leader in Ibadan and Southwark Borough in London and the respected Global Coordinator of Champions for Nigeria (Champions for Growth of Nigeria Initiative) www.championsfornigeria.com , a registered Organisation in the UK and Nigeria, with members all over Nigeria, continental Africa, Europe, Asia and America. Mr Adejumo recently returned to live in his home town of Ibadan after an illustrious career in Local Government, Business, Community Development and Management Consultancy in the United Kingdom.
The attack happened in the full glare of members of the public when a strange fire outbreak occurred within the premises of the PHCN and engulfed a neighbouring building, damaging irreparably properties worth millions of Naira affecting the ex-Barcelona and Nigerian International footballer, Gbenga Okunowo’s private home. In the midst of the pandemonium that greeted the fire incident, there were concerns about the role played by the soldiers who were attached to guard the property. Their attitude and behaviour was remotely detached from the collective efforts of ordinary citizens who frantically tried to call for the fire services and do whatever they could to minimise the damage.
Mr Adejumo, a resident and landlord in the estate, was there, with other residents, championing the fire rescue effort, in kindred spirit, and tried to mobilise all around to salvage the situation. Unfortunately, the soldiers’ mood was not in tune with the anxiety of the local community about the potential large scale destruction of lives and property and it raised a lot of questions about the origin of the fire outbreak. In an action that appeared to be akin to an illicit drug induced violent behaviour, the soldiers pounced on him, for allegedly making comment about their laxity and negligence, and savagely attacked Mr Adejumo, who was defenceless, surprised and frightened for his dear life. He was kicked to the floor, wantonly booted on the head, body and dragged on the floor without any confrontation or exchange of words. His plea for mercy and patience went on deaf ears, the more he tried to catch the attention of the soldiers to show restraints, and the more he was pounced on like a rag doll as if they were on a mission to kill in the war front. The crowd were so helpless because of fear for the life of this man and theirs, making them to reflect on the unenviable reputation of Nigerian Army men in uniform. The behaviour of these soldiers on the night was so dastardly heinous and conceived with a purposeful intention of maiming or doing serious damage to the person and body of Mr Adejumo who, luckily managed to be rescued from the senseless torture and grievous harm he was subjected to by these careless soldiers by fellow landlords and residents. He was left in profound pain and agony so much that he needed to be hospitalised for treatment.
The soldiers acted as if the fire incident was a war zone disaster and the brutality meted to Mr Adejumo was a legally binding behaviour that attracts no disciplinary consequences. When a Nigerian soldier began to batter his own citizen in peace time and cause bodily carnage and aggravated harm to defenceless ordinary citizens, should question not be asked whether, infact there is any insight amongst the military class that, engagement in brutal force with civilians amounts to gross indiscipline and necessitate thorough investigation and court martial proceedings. The Nigeria Army pride itself in professionalism and sacred discipline, but when the oath of disciplinary testament is violated without any fear of consequences, then it begs the question whether our democracy is lacking in its meaning. The Military ordinarily is an institution of highly disciplined professionals, majority of whom are, but the behaviour and actions of recruits like these cast a massive shadow on the tenet of discipline within the force and bring into public disrepute the hard work of the men and officers who are working loyally and patriotically to uphold the code of discipline and professionalism within the Military
The brutal and savage attack on Mr Adejumo, who is known for promoting peace, dialogue and selfless service to one and many, an attribute he portrayed for many years living in the inner city of London, mentoring the young and driving probity and altruistic endeavours and raising champions for community and mankind , should not be allowed to be swept under the carpet unattended to without the Commanding Officer looking at the ABC of the event and dispensing disciplinary measures to those soldiers for their crude and unenviable behaviour in Army uniform.
We call on the Governor of Oyo State to show leadership in bringing his official might to bear on this incident and ensure that, all citizens of the state is protected by the civil law and their liberty and safety is not violated by soldiers who are posted to the state. Mr Adejumo is not an ordinary Ibadan citizen, he is a community leader, a patriotic Nigeria and a selfless individual who would not trespass or trample on the jurisdiction of anyone to do his work in helping others and protecting lives and limbs of fellow citizens.
We are petitioning the GOC Ibadan division and the Commanding officer for these errant soldiers and also petitioning the Oyo State Government to give meaningful attention to this incident. In a responsive society, this will immediately attract military and civil proceeding for violation of human right to safety and breach of military code of engagement with the civilian public.
Get the Soldiers out! Name and shame them!! Investigate the incident!!! And put a stop to such crude behaviour by our men in uniform.
Dr Olayiwola Ajileye – Birmingham