By Deji Lambo, Punch Newspaper
A NGO, Legal Assistance and Citizens Rights Initiative (LACRI) has demanded a probe into the alleged shooting of a trader, Akaniyene Ezekiel, by a soldier of the Nigerian Army in Calabar, Cross River State capital.
In a petition addressed to the Nigerian Army and signed by the LACRI Director of Legal Services, Evaristus Chinedum, the group urged the Army authorities to investigate the incident in order to get justice for the victim.
The petition read in part, “Akaniyene was shot on March 21, 2021 at close range by a soldier stationed at the Nasarawa military checkpoint, Ikot Ekpo, Calabar, without provocation, leading to severe injuries on both his legs.
“Soon after the trader was shot and it became apparent that the injuries may lead to the death of the victim, the soldier mobilised and took him to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) and subsequently transferred him to a traditional healing centre, 8 Miles, Calabar, where he is currently receiving treatment.
“LACRI views the threat made to the victim not to draw the attention of the Army authorities or the public to this crime as not only an attempt to suppress facts and obstruct justice, but also very inhumane as the mental torture occasioned by the incident is already unbearable for the victim.”
The group asked the Army to launch an immediate investigation into the incident with a view to not only reprimanding the officer, but also ensure his prosecution as his action clearly violated Section 104 (2) A&B of the Armed Forces Act, LFN 2004.
The Army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Muhammed Yerima, said he was not aware of the incident, but condemned the use of bullets outside a war situation.
When informed about the petition, Yerima said it would be in the custody of the Army Admin Department, adding that he would be briefed after investigation had been concluded.
‘‘I urge the petitioners to follow up on the petition. You don’t write a petition and go to sleep. You must follow up on it,” Yerima stated.
He, however, gave an assurance that if the investigation established the soldier’s culpability, he would be court-martialled.
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