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Nigeria's Security Agents Are Repressive

Militants Say Nigeria's Security Agents Are Repressive

Militants of the Niger Delta have accused the country's armed security forces of being repressive. They therefore want President Umar Yar'Adua to curb their excesses in a bid to salvage the current democratic order from collapse.

Spokesman of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Jomo Gbomo, in a detailed on-line statement yesterday claimed that in Nigeria today, a good proportion of the citizenry have a military brutality story to tell; whether it is witnessing, being involved themselves, or knowing someone who has been involved.

''What has been pathetic all this while is the acceptance of this madness by the public who took such public abuse and rights infringement as a way of life - until now. Even the legendary Afro beat king, Fela, was not spared during his life time and recorded a song on his experience for generations to know we have a sick military''.

According to them, ''it is as if Barrack Obama, the next president of the United States has suddenly opened our eyes to this malady from the same institution mandated to protect it's citizens. It is as if Obama's message of change and the audacity of hope was not only to his American people but also to people the world over to realize that the era of accepting the status quo is over. Ms Uzoma Okere as well as the witnesses to her assault and the person who recorded the scene must have been affected by the season of change and decided that enough is enough of this nonsense by the men in uniform''.

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Continuing, they said the reaction by these people who refused to be cowered by decades of fear from the intimidating symbol of uniform, horse whips, guns and sirens is the beginning of what will soon become a revolution in Nigeria. What may have incensed the naval ratings and their admiral was the audacity of a bloody civilian. They could not understand why a woman at that could be bold to fight back or react after being flogged for not moving her car in a hurry; even if she had to drive it into a ditch to make way for the lords in uniform.

''Observing young military graduands who are just commissioned will give an idea of the doctrine and mind set of our armed forces. First they are let loose into a civil society with an attitude of superiority. Notice the type of stickers they stick on their wind screen such as "combatant", which is the same thing as the signs on gates which reads 'beware of dog' or a warning on the cage of an animal in a zoo.

''Then peek into the car and you will see other paraphernalia of terror such as horse whips and belt on the dash board. As if these are not enough, you will find a beret strategically placed at the dashboard or a sun scorched dusty peak cap of a naval officer proudly displayed at the rear like some sort of trophy or ornament while some even hang their uniforms as a permanent wardrobe for good effect. In all fairness to them, this strategy has
been working effectively for decades. Some have even used it to marry girls who are attracted to this form of power", they said.

The insurgents said Ms. Okere should count herself lucky because ,she is the daughter of one of them and secondly the incident happened in the city of Lagos where the governor is exhibiting change. Her counterparts in the Niger Delta have not been so lucky where they are beaten to a state of stupor or raped in addition for good measure! For the men, cases of abuse are taken to the extreme where extra-judicial killings is not a big deal because there is no case to answer.

They argued that because of the unrest caused by those seeking positive change in the Niger Delta region, the government has decided to look the other way to the brutal atrocities of the officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces.

''The behavior of these men is a form of insecurity, mental challenge and
cowardice. There should be a mass psychiatric evaluation of all officers and men and no one should be exempted because they all behave the same but in various degree. Their wives, many of whom are enduring the union "for the sake of the children" are still hanging in there hoping one day the men will not see them as battering objects.

''It is such behavior that has given rise to armed militia such as our group, MEND. Many of us have been victims of military abuse at one time or the other. We have witnessed first hand that the military are not trained to accommodate peaceful demonstrations or dialogue when it comes to the issue of oil.

''When impoverished villagers are mowed down with machine guns from helicopters owned by the oil companies to dislodge peaceful protesters from an oil platform who are fed up with pollution and spillages that ravage their source of livelihood, it breeds hardened boys who realize that the only way to deal with a bully is to match his strength'', they said.

For the militants, the power of a soldier is his gun over the defenseless civilian, adding, give a civilian the same gun and you find quickly that the man who harassed you in town becomes a cry baby in the face of an armed confrontation inside the creek.

According to MEND, ''there has been many occasions we have had confrontations with soldiers and our fighters have been amused back at the camp recalling how cowardly the all mighty naval rating or soldier cower with fear. On one particular incident, a soldier actually defecated in his trousers and others have been known to urinate. Yet this same individual would feel like a superman in town because he knows that he his dealing with men and women who can only fight back at best with their fists''.

Journalists, they went on, ''have not been spared from this brutality. Recently the Punch correspondent in Port Harcourt suffered a brutal beating in the hands of the cousins of our armed forces, the police force. The time will come when the masses will revolt against these barbarians if they are not checked on time. The admiral and his over zealous ratings should be set as scape goats for others to learn from because if they get away with this, from what we saw. In Lagos, a mob will quickly conduct jungle justice on our uniformed men if they continue acting as rabid animals''.


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