The man was brutalised by the soldiers for wearing a military camouflage trouser according to media reports. A video of two soldiers brutalising a physically challenged man in Onitsha, Anambra state recently went viral in Nigeria.
The video sparked outrage among Nigerians and immediately got the attention of the Nigerian Army which acted swiftly.
“Both have been sentenced to reduction in rank, from corporal to private soldiers and 21 days imprisonment with hard labour respectively, which include forfeiture of 21 days pay to the federal government of Nigeria,” a statement by the director, Army public relations, Brigadier-General Sani Kukasheka Usman said.
The statement enjoined the general public to regard the incident as an isolated case which does not reflect the true image of the Nigerian Army.
Ventures Africa explains the Nigerian Criminal Code that dwells on the subject matter below:
Sections 110 & 111 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, L.N. 112 of 1964, 1967 No. 27 states; “Any person who- Unlawfully wears the uniform of forces, etc. (1) not being a person serving in any of the armed forces of Nigeria, wears the uniform or any part of the uniform of such forces, or any of the armed dress having the appearance or bearing any of the regimental or other distinctive marks of such uniforms.
“(2) not being a person holding any office or authority under the Government of Nigeria or of any part thereof, wears any uniform or distinctive badge or mark or carries any token calculated to convey the impression that such person holds any office or authority under the government; is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for one month, or to a fine of ten naira, unless he proves that he had the permission of the President or of the Governor of a State or wear such uniform or dress, badge or mark or to carry such token: Provided that this section shall not apply to the wearing of any uniform or dress in the course of a stage play or in any bona fide public entertainment.”
Section 111 provides, “Any person who sells or gives any uniform, or part of any dress, badge or mark, as in the last preceding section mentioned, to any person who is not authorised to wear the same, is guilty of an offence and is liable to the penalties prescribed in the said section.”
Section 251 of the Constitution also states; Any person who, not being a person serving in any of the armed or police forces of Nigeria, wears the uniform of any of these forces, or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the regimental or other distinctive marks of any such uniform, in such manner or in such circumstances as to be likely to bring contempt on that uniform, or employs any other person so to wear such uniform or dress, is guilty of a simple offence, and is liable to imprisonment for three months or to a fine of forty naira.”
These are 6 points Nigerians must know as regards wearing military uniforms
1. The military uniform is a peculiar symbolism with a long history and tradition which has been adopted by armies since the seventeenth century.
2. It calls for respect and fear and symbolizes strength and power.
3. There is a law in the Nigerian criminal code that bars anyone from unlawfully wearing camouflage outfits
4. The military cannot unilaterally constitute the prosecutor and the judge by charging a person for wearing army uniforms and has no jurisdiction to deal with civilians.
5. If a civilian contravenes the law of Nigeria, in accordance with the rule of law, such a person is charged to court and not disciplined the same way the military court-martials can deal with their military personnel who are subject to service law.
6. It is important that the public respects national symbols of authority including the use of uniform accoutrements because it’s a symbol of esprit de corps which distinguishes the members of armed forces from the rest of the population.