Nigerians berate air force, want overzealous officers punished

 

Shuaibu; The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu

Some legal practitioners have criticised the Nigerian Air Force for defending the torture of a protocol officer of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mohammed Shuaibu.

They asked the air force authorities to make amends by ordering the immediate prosecution of the offending officers.

PUNCH Metro had reported on Thursday that the air force authorities defended the beating of Shuaibu by four of its officers.

The Command Public Relations Officer, Logistics Command, NAF, Joel Abioye, had told our correspondent on Wednesday that Shuaibu broke the rule of the airport by allowing his friend to park his vehicle in the wrong place.

Abioye said Shuaibu also struggled with the officers in a bid to retrieve the number plate of the vehicle, which was seized.

He said it was in the process of the struggle that he sustained injuries.

However, Shuaibu, had told PUNCH Metro that the officers were four in number and had wanted to extort his friend, adding that it was in the process of begging them to release the number plate that he was brutally beaten until he passed out.

A Lagos-based human rights lawyer and activist, Festus Keyamo, described Shuaibu’s torture as barbaric, saying it was a breach of the fundamental rights of the victim.

He urged him to pursue a legal case against the officers.

He said, “Whatever is their excuse, they have no reason to brutalise him. There is what is called due process of law. They have the power to arrest him and hand him over to the appropriate authorities. But they lack the power to beat him up.

“What they have done is wrong and barbaric and it is a breach of his fundamental human rights. The victim should pursue a case against them immediately.”

Debo Adeniran, the Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, said, “The action is unnecessary display of arrogance and brute force by the military men who are supposed to be professionals.

“Taking the number plate was wrong. The military authorities, airport authorities and every stakeholder concerned should diligently investigate this case. The incoming government must also ensure that the military know how to behave to members of the public and submit to civil rule.”

He said the case should not be buried.

Another lawyer, Spurgeon Ataene, said the officers were not above the law and should be made to face the full consequence of their action.

“The law is no respecter of persons. Whoever they may be or their rank, they are subject to the dictates of the law and should be made to face the wrath of the law.

“The Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011, is very clear. If you batter someone, it is called assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. The man could have even lost his life.”

Online readers of The PUNCH also condemned the act, saying several recent cases of alleged brutality of people by air force officers showed that there was a need to retrain them.

A reader, Peter, said, “Last time, a female police officer was slapped by an air force officer and this time around, a FAAN official was brutally attacked and assaulted by some air force men.

“On both occasions, the air force spokesman came up with some frivolous defence of these unprofessional acts by these unruly men in uniform.

“The military authorities need to do far more in the area of training their officers to understand that they must operate in line with the nation’s laws at all times.”

Another reader, ScrollCreed, said he had a similar experience.

He said, “Everyone who travels through MMIA will no doubt experience the abuse of power from the air force officers posted there. These officers will take the keys of your vehicles for no just cause and keep you standing for hours before they allow you to go.”

Another reader, EdoboyinUS, queried the presence of the military on the premises of the airport.

“Why is the military at the airport in the first place? What happened to the airport police? The military is trained for war and not situations like these,” he said.

SOURCE: The Punch.

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