Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has frowned at what he called “illegal and extremely provocative” actions of the Army against residents of Aba and other parts of the state.
Ikpeazu expressed dismay about “the unwholesome activities” of some soldiers, who he accused of subjecting the civil populace to corporal punishment and alleged extortion.
The governor noted that the actions of the soldiers were more prevalent on Bende-Umuahia Road, Ohafia township and within Aba and its environs.
A statement yesterday quoted the governor as saying the actions of the soldiers were not only illegal and extremely provocative, but that they were also capable of causing civil unrest.
It said they could also distort the peaceful atmosphere “we have worked very hard to put in place in the state”.
Ikpeazu, who said his administration had always indicated its preparedness to cooperate with security agencies in carrying out their lawful operations within the state, added that it would not condone a situation where the presence of the Army would become a platform to assault the basic rights of the people and subject them to inhuman and degrading treatments.
The governor directed the Commander of the 14 Brigade at Ohafia and other heads of Army formations in the state to monitor the activities of their men and stop untoward practices.
He said: “The Government of Abia State shall no longer condone this unwarranted assault on the people of the state. Our people, as law-abiding citizens, are fully entitled to their basic freedoms and fundamental rights to life, personal liberty and dignity of the human person.
“These rights are guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the same law from which the Army derives its authority. These rights can only be tampered with in accordance with laid-down legal procedures and not according to the whims and caprices of individual Army officers.”