Nigeria:Soldiers filmed beating up disabled man

Two Nigerian soldiers have been arrested and charged with assault after they were filmed beating a disabled man with sticks in a busy street.

The army said the reason for the assault, in Onitsha in Anambra state on Tuesday, appeared to be because the man was wearing a camouflage shirt.

It said the soldiers had been charged “in line with our zero tolerance for acts of indiscipline”.

Many Nigerians complain that soldiers are rarely punished for excesses.

Human rights groups have persistently accused Nigeria’s military of abuses against civilians, especially in north-east Nigeria, where it has been fighting a long-running insurgency by militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Wearing camouflage clothing is a sensitive issue in Nigeria because militants and criminals have often worn camouflage clothing either to carry out attacks or impersonate soldiers for other criminal purposes.

Section 110 of the Nigerian criminal code says it is an offence to unlawfully wear uniform of the armed forces or dress “having the appearance… of such uniforms”.

Footage of the assault on the disabled man in Onitsha, in southern Nigeria, had been circulating on social media before the army commented.

It said the “ugly incident” was “an isolated case which is not [a] true reflection of the Nigerian army”.

News of the soldiers being charged came a week after another soldier was jailed for seven years for shooting dead a civilian at a market in the city of Maiduguri, in the north-east, last year.

The soldier, who was not identified, was found guilty of manslaughter.

In court, he argued that he acted in self-defence after the man he killed, named as Umar Alkali, tried to wrestle his rifle from him.

The military court rejected this argument, deciding that he had used disproportionate force.

By Africafrique and agencies

 

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