The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore rescues five men who were being maltreated by the Nigerian soldiers in Lagos.
In a video he shared on his official Facebook account on Saturday, December 1, 2018, Sowere narrated how he came to the rescue of the five men while returning from the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God located on the outskirts of Lagos.
According to him, the soldiers had made all five men lie by the side of the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway after they were stopped for driving ‘too close’ to their military vehicle.
Sowore approached the soldiers and demanded that the civilians be treated with dignity and not abuse and public humiliation. He further noted that the soldiers had no jurisdiction to carry out arrests in such situations. He said:
“On my way from Redemption Camp today, I ran into a detachment of soldiers subjecting some Nigerians to abuse and public humiliation on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, I alighted and approached the soldiers to ask why, they explained that the men were driving “too close” to their vehicle and they had suspicion that they could be ‘dangerous’.
“As an activist, I am familiar with this tactic by soldiers, so, I told them it was not their duty to carry out arrests and that if they considered them suspects it was the job of the police to investigate and prosecute them.”
In the video attached to the Facebook post, at least three soldiers of the Nigerian Army were captured on camera. According to the plain-clothed officer who directly addressed Sowore, he said the men, described as ‘these idiots’, were charging behind their vehicle and refused to heed an initial warning.
He further accused the men of looking suspicious before one of the uniformed soldiers said the accused men also initially refused to open their car boot to be searched. The plain-clothed officer added that the military vehicle was on its way to ‘pick a big man’ when the incident happened.
The accused men were later released after what Sowore described as a tense series of exchanges.
“As usual, the situation became tense but after a series of exchanges including a demand that we delete the video – which I resisted – the civilians were released.”
The presidential candidate further described the event as a vindication of his campaign promise to decrease military presence in civilian populations to avoid unnecessary abuse. He said:
“This confirms our position in running for office of the commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to decrease military presence on civilian territory so that our soldiers can concentrate on defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria rather than descending on civilians over every flimsy excuse on matters that should be the duty of the Police.”
The candidate has repeatedly complained about the rot in the Nigerian Army and campaigned against its well-documented history of human rights abuse going back decades.
One of his campaign promises is to sack all of the nation’s generals in the Nigerian Army if elected President at next year’s polls. During an interview in September, he said the generals are responsible for the country’s prolonged war against terrorism, alleging that they don’t want it to end. He said:
“With regards to security, there needs to be an overhaul of our security system. I’m going in there firing every damn general in the Army who’s involved in fighting terrorism in this country. They’re thieves and I know them.”