Soldiers of the 3 Armored Division, Maxwell Kobe Cantonment, Rukuba Jos, on Wednesday attempted whisking away a Guardian newspaper correspondent in Jos over a court marshal story; but was rescued by the state chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalist [NUJ] Kaptdaba Gubum and other union officials.
He was however interrogated.
The Army officials stormed the office of the reporter early hours of Wednesday attempting to arrest him over a report they said misrepresented facts.
The reporter, Isa Abdulsalami, had reported last Monday that 18 soldiers were sentenced to death while others were jailed over charge of culpable homicide while hunting members of the extremist Boko Haram sect.
But the Deputy Director Army public relations of the cantonment, Col Texas Chukuwu, who led the troop of soldiers to the Guardian office in Jos to effect arrest of the journalist, said the Court Marshal had not concluded its findings on the soldiers, and has therefore not passed judgment on the accused persons.
The Soldiers were been court-marshalled on allegations that they manhandled civilians during their operations in Maiduguri, Borno state, Jos, Plateau state and other north-eastern states in the country.
According to the, soldiers, the story by the reporter was false, incorrect, and baseless.
It would be recalled that the Guardian newspaper had reported in its last Monday edition that 18 Soldiers were
sentenced to death by the court marshal at the cantonment.
Mr. Chukuwu also noted that there were procedures in announcing names of affected soldiers after each court marshal since the trial was not a public court.
He said the court’s judgment cannot be announced in the media before authorities in the Army are told.
He said the judgment must be forwarded to the military authority for confirmation before it is make public,
however said any soldier found wanting on the charges against him would be punished according to military rules, but that Army headquarters has to vet the judgment passed they the court marshal before it is public.
The public relations officer of the Army at the cantonment described the Guardian report as “embarrassing, baseless, and therefore called on members of the public to disregard the report.”
However, there have been several allegations that soldiers deployed for peacekeeping in troubled states of the federation were maltreating residence, and extorting money from the public.
Residents have also accused some soldiers of sleeping around with women around their duty posts.