The Nigerian Army has vowed to punish its personnel who were caught on camera Saturday mistreating civilians they said are suspected armed robbers.
A photograph of the incident was published in the Monday edition of Abuja-based Daily Trust newspaper.
The shocking photograph was made public at a time the Nigerian military is battling to extricate itself from allegations of gross human rights abuses.
Amnesty International released a report on June 3 accusing the Nigerian military of being responsible for the deaths of about 8,000 prisoners in their fight against insurgency.
The report recommended the prosecution of some senior military commanders, including some past service chiefs, on allegations of war crimes.
President Muhammadu Buhari responded to the report by ordering the armed forces to undertake an internal inquiry over the allegations.
The president said a final decision on what course his administration would pursue concerning the allegations would ultimately be dependent on the advice of an Attorney General who is yet to be appointed.
The spokesperson for the Army, Sani Usman, a colonel, said the action of the soldiers caught maltreating civilians on Saturday has done incalculable damage to the image of the service, and is at variance with military ethics and professionalism.
Mr. Usman said the perpetrators had been identified and would be punished accordingly.
The Army spokesperson however criticised Daily Trust over what it called “poor and worrisome editorial judgement by giving this misdemeanour prominence in their paper”.
“Alerting appropriate Nigerian Army authorities would have been a better option that will be met with prompt response,” Mr. Sani said.
Read the Army’s full statement below.
The attention of Nigerian Army has been drawn to a front page photograph of some soldiers maltreating a suspected robber at Mararraba, Nasarawa State, on the front page of today’s edition of Daily Trust newspaper.
Sadly, it is also trending on the Social Media.
There is no doubt the photograph has done incalculable damage to the image of the service. The act was unfortunate and at variance with military ethics and professionalism.
The Nigerian Army wishes to inform the public that the perpetrators of the offence have been identified, summoned and would face disciplinary action.
The Army has also reached out to the management of the newspaper over this poor and worrisome editorial judgement by giving this misdemeanour prominence in their paper. Alerting appropriate Nigerian Army authorities would have been a better option that will be met with prompt response.
We wish to assure the public that the Nigerian Army would continue to protect and respect human rights and that this regrettable incidence should not be used as a yardstick to judge the entire Army.
Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman
Acting Director Army Relations