If the Nigerian army is fated to fight another civil war similar to the Nigerian-Biafran war of 1967-70, I can confidently prophesy that many Nigerians will pray silently and loudly that our soldiers should be defeated by the rebels and humiliated as a revenge for the way thy ill-treat civilians. I will be one of such Nigerians.
In the past two or so weeks, a contingent of soldiers, possibly from the military formation here in nearby Ogoja
Whatever their mission is in that community in Bekwarra, the people are not rejoicing at their presence. In fact, the truth of our unfortunate situation in Nigeria is that wherever the Nigerian soldiers are, they do not bring peace nor do they breed confidence that our defenders are on our soil or near our vicinity. The only set of persons who seem to welcome the presence of soldiers are women, especially pretty young girls. The evidence of their isolated happiness is the innumerable ‘’ soldiers and police check-point children’’ that we find all over the country where soldiers and police are known to have been deployed to mountcheck-points, ostensibly
The day the soldiers arrived Otukpuru Afaa, they ordered that motor cyclist operators should no longer ride pass on the main highway where they mounted their check-point. Rather, they, and or their passengers, should be using a little footpath near the main road. The next day, the soldiers decided that that was not enough humiliation for motor cyclist’s users. They now ordered that on approaching their check-point, everyone on a motor cycle should dismount and trek pass them to a certain point before they can now kick-start, re-mount and drive away to their destinations.
I have no security training but can some one else explain to me and millions of long- suffering civilians what security threat soldiers face from ‘’Okada’’ users and how asking users to dismount and trek nullifies such threat. The image of my brothers and sisters across Nigeria dismounting at soldiers’ check-points and walking past like prisoners of war being de-psychologized or disoriented and humiliated,irks me. My thinking is that our soldiers enjoy some malicious and mischievous glee from seeing helpless civilians being humiliated and made to feel severely inferior in the presence of the army.
If the soldiers deployed to Oukpuru Afaa are there to contain the rage between the Yache and their Tiv neighbours, what co-operation can they possibly get from Okada riders who are some of the best intelligence materials any one in the Intelligence High Command can think of in our country given the way these very people are being treated as suspects or saboteurs by the army?
Given our national predilection to copy bad examples from bad or unintelligent persons, this idea of asking motor cycle riders to dismount at roadblocks nationwide has simply become a very bad culture of humiliation possibly traceable to an isolated security incidence that has not repeated itself anywhere else in Nigeria and which has no basis in security consideration whatsoever. A man on a motor bike with a deadly mission asked to dismount can achieve his goal with greater efficiency than one who is allowed to drive and pass. A drive-pass grenade wielder can easily miss his target while one that is walking-pass can aim with greater precision and achieve his mission. Well, like I said, I am a security illiterate but common sense tells me that what our soldiers do treating civilians they way they do has no sense at all. They simply make enemies out of a people they should cultivate as friends in order for them to succeed in their mission, if that mission is to bring peace and harmony.
The theatre of the on-going ‘’war’’ in CRS is about 5-10 kilometres away from Otukpuru Afaa. Why should the people of Bekwarra several kilometers away or anybody else using the Ikom-Katsina-Ala Highway be made to suffer when they are no participants in the war? Are the soldiers saying like the saying of our people that the beating of a snake also affects the ground on which it slides?
Clearly, the Army High Command has a task on its hands. It must rethink the methods of the Nigerian Army in which they hold the people on ground who they meet in a missionin suspicion and treat them as conquered people even when they are merely going about their legitimate mission. If not, when next they have a war to fight, I will declare my support for the rebels even if the rebels have no cause.