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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has advocated the impartial investigation of the persons responsible for the alleged killing of two soldiers and the subsequent invasion by armed military personnel and burning down of the palace of the traditional ruler of Izombe community in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo.
HURIWA stated that it is illegal for the military to use extralegal executions of citizens, regardless of the level of perceived offence, and that it has come to light that the killing of a young man by soldiers prompted the revenge killing of two soldiers, which is barbaric and illegal in and of itself.
The rights group is urging the Imo State Government to establish an independent judicial commission of inquiry to identify the arsonists among the soldiers who petrol-bombed the traditional ruler’s palace, as well as justice and closure for all those killed, including the two soldiers allegedly set ablaze by some enraged youths.
The group expressed worry that the Nigerian military is yet to understand that under constitutional democracy, no institution has the legal authority to take the law into its hands no matter the provocation or anger just as setting ablaze the housing assets of the traditional ruler has been described as an act of primitive brutality and an uncivilised modus operandi which must be decisively dealt with and stopped forthwith.
HURIWA recalled that a community leader from Umuokwu village, Mr James Imo, claimed that over 50 houses have been burnt down.
It condemned what it described as the cowardly action of the irate youths who allegedly murdered the uniformed men, stating that the brutal criminal act of killing law enforcement agents is condemnable and remains despicable and reprehensible
HURIWA insisted that what is lawful is for the Nigerian Army to report to the police, who will immediately swing into action and arrest the suspected killers of the two soldiers so they are prosecuted for murders, and not for the soldiers to resort to self-help measures of invading communities and burning down houses and shooting randomly at everything that moves just to revenge the alleged brutal killing of two of their colleagues.
The association charged the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, to escalate his announced programme of professionalisation of the armed forces and to work out ways and means of ensuring that henceforth soldiers do not resort to self-help measures such as invading a community whereby any of their members are killed in the line of duty or even for committing an atrocious act of extrajudicial execution of a citizen.
The rights group said the tendency of invasion and arson by irate soldiers belongs to the medieval period and is totally unconstitutional and amounts to terrorism.
HURIWA also charged the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Usman Alkali Baba, to investigate the damaging accusation that policemen in Nsukka, Enugu State, invaded the home of a traditional ruler, destroyed the property, maimed visitors, manhandled the traditional ruler and apparently abducted him to an unknown place because of an alleged land-related dispute the traditional ruler he had with another resident of the community.
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