HURIWA, Ubani fault Military for detaining Private Akinlabi, skit maker, Cute Abiola
•Sowore’s petition to free Akinlabi hits 1,000 signatories as NYSC queries corper, who proposed to female soldier
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and the Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, NBA-SPIDEL, Dr. Monday Ubani have faulted the recent decision by Nigerian Military to punish two of its officers, Private Hannah Sofiyat Akinlabi and popular skit maker Abdulgafar Ahmed also known as Cute Abiola.
While Private Hannah was detained for publicly accepting a marriage proposal by a National Youth Corps member at the Yikpata Orientation Camp in Kwara State., Cute Abiola was detained and punished for almost three weeks for allegedly contravening Navy social media rules.
HURIWA, in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National director of media Miss Zainab Yusuf, said it is a pathetic embarrassment to the institution of Nigerian Army to devote its time, energy and resources talking about a frivolity and abandoning serious matters with strategic negative impacts on the credibility and integrity of the Army.
Similarly, in a statement yesterday, Ubani noted that while the Army and Navy deserve the right to maintain discipline amongst its officers, such actions must, however, be guided by the 1999 Constitution , which guarantees the rights of all citizens including military officers.
He particularly condemned the illegal detention of Private Hannah, Cute Abiola and some other military officers, who have suffered such fate, adding the constitution guarantees military officers the right to marriage.
On Cute Abiola detention and punishment, Ubani said: “ This young officer was detained by the Nigerian Navy for days without the knowledge of his family for allegedly contravening the military laws. The military must be mindful that Nigeria is not a ‘Banana Republic’, where anything goes.
“What irked many is the silence of his employers for two solid days after he was detained with no member of his family being aware of his detention or what has happened to him.
“The secrecy surrounding his detention by his employers and the reasons advanced for his ordeal smack of an era of military regime where basic rights of the citizens are violated with impunity.”
Also demanding the release of Private Hannah, Ubani said: “The human right community finds it difficult to accept the fact that a citizen can be taken hostage in an opaque manner and it has to take some days before the authority can confirm that they are the one holding the citizen hostage in their facility.
“So also is the idea of throwing a young military officer into detention simply because she accepted a marriage proposal which is approved by God and laws of the land. ”
Also, the petition initiated by social activist, Omoyele Sowore, to free detained 24-year-old female soldier, Sofiyat Akinlabi for accepting a marriage proposal from a youth corper had hit 1,168 out of the possible 1,500 signatories at the time of filing this report.
Sowore said: “Sofiat is being stigmatised and detained for saying yes to love and her family fears for her safety. She knew the corps member before they met in the camp and the couple decided to strengthen their relationship.
“It is Christmas time and Sofiat should be with her family and loved ones during the holidays and not held up in a dungeon.
“Her commanding officer, Brigadier General AE Abubakar is threatening to send her to an underground cell at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Army dungeon at the Army headquarters in Abuja, according to her family.
MEANWHILE, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has queried the corps member who proposed to the female soldier at the Yikpata Orientation Camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Kwara State.
NYSC Director-General, Brig. General Shuaibu Ibrahim, who disclosed this at a briefing, yesterday in Abuja, noted that the female soldier was never ‘arrested’, but was only going through a normal disciplinary measure.
The DG noted that the female soldier is not detained at a military facility but in a safe guardroom where erring personnel are kept in the enforcement of disciplinary actions.
Also, Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, said that it is an act of indiscipline for a trainer to engage in an affair with her trainee.
He described the act as fraternisation in military terms.
He said: “It is an act of gross misconduct for personnel to engage in romance while in uniform.
“The Nigerian Army has codes of conduct, rules and regulations guiding our personnel whenever and wherever they are deployed for duty.”
Nwachukwu said the public perception would have been different if a male soldier had proposed to a female trainee, adding that it (public) would have seen it as taking advantage of the female trainee.
“These rules were put in place for the purpose of proper administration and discipline in the Army. If I may ask, what if the soldier was a male? How would the public have perceived his action? Definitely, it would have been perceived as taking advantage of a female corps member, a trainee, put in his care for training.
“The same applies here. The Nigerian military like all others has its disciplinary codes, distinct from that of the general society. Every personnel has voluntarily undertaken to be bound by this code,” he added.