By Adewale Sanyaolu
The Legal Assistance and Citizens Rights initiative (LACRI), a NGO, has called for an investigation into the shooting of a trader, Mr Akaniyene Tom Ezekiel, by the Nigerian Army in Calabar, Cross River State.
The petition, which was signed by LACRI Director, Legal Services, Barrister Evaristus Chinedum, on April 26, urged Army authorities to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to book.
LACRI disclosed that Akaniyene was shot on March 21 at close range by Army personnel stationed at Nassarawa Military Checkpoint, Ikot Ekpo, Calabar, without provocation leading to severe injuries on both legs.
‘’Soon after the trader was shot and it became apparent that the injuries may lead to the death of the victim, the Army men mobilised and took him to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and subsequently transferred him to Traditional Healing Center, 8 Miles, Calabar where he is currently receiving treatment,’ it stated.
LACRI said it 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 stated that it demands that the Army should commence investigation immediately with a view to not only reprimand the officer but also ensure the prosecution of the said officer, whose action clearly violates Section 104 (2) A&B of the Armed Forces Act, LFN 2004.
The Army Spokesperson in Abuja, Brigadier General Muhammed Yerima, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, said he was not aware of the incident, saying the use of bullets outside a war situation is a serious offence in the Army.
When reminded that a petition had already been acknowledged by the Army, Yerima said such petition must have been in the custody of the Army Admin Department and that it is only when investigations are concluded that he would be briefed.
‘’I urge the petitioners to follow-up on the petition. You don’t write a petition and go to sleep. You must follow-up and ensure justice is served.’
He assured that if the investigation proves the Army personnel guilty, the person(s) involved would be tried and court marshaled.