The punishment meted by the Nigerian Army on two errant soldiers is inadequate and should have been more stringent, a state governor has said.
The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has demanded the immediate sack and prosecution of the two soldiers who assaulted a physically-challenged man, Chijioke Oratu.
The governor donated N500,000 to the victim to aid his recovery and rehabilitation and promised to empower him by setting up a business for him.
Chijioke Oratu, crippled in both legs, was viciously beaten and kicked by two armed soldiers after being dragged off his wheel chair, as shocked onlookers stood by helplessly.
The video of the attack, apparently captured by a bystander, went viral on social media, sparking outrage.
The Nigerian Army announced on Friday that the assailants had been identified and arrested.
Spokesperson Sani Usman, a Brigadier General, said in a statement the culprits, Bature Samuel and Abdulazeez Usman, who were both corporals, had been demoted to privates and imprisoned for 21 days with hard labour.
They are to also forfeit their pay for the 21 days.
But Mr. Umahi, who received the victim at the executive chambers of the government house at Abakaliki on Tuesday, said the punishment was not commiserate with the soldiers’ offence.
The governor said the state government will write a petition to army authorities demanding the immediate sack and prosecution of the two soldiers.
“Let me highly commend the Chief of Staff and the GOC of 82 Division for their quick and humanly intervention. In our society we have different sectors of our engagement, the judges or lawyers are not the most important, neither are the doctors, police, soldiers or politicians,” he said.
“The combination of all will make the society that is progressive. And I believe in a society where the right of one stops the right of the other begins. I commend the governor of Anambra state who reacted immediately and sought to rehabilitate this young man before we came in and took over.
“We commend the Chief of Army Staff on the disciplinary actions taken on those men but we believe that 21 days imprisonment is not enough, they didn’t behave like human beings and to be demoted is not enough.
“I suggest to them that those soldiers should be sacked and not demoted. We shall write a petition which I will personally submit to the Chief of Army staff demanding the sack and prosecution of the soldiers who attacked him.”
The governor also directed his Senior Special Adviser on Welfare and Religious matters to liaise with the victim and his family on the best way to resettle him.
The governor also announced the release of relief funds and packages worth over N30 million to the people of Azuoffia-Edda community who were allegedly attacked by neighbouring communities in Cross River State.
He also directed the provision of mosquito nets to the victims and digging of two boreholes at their refugee camp located at Azuoffia-Edda primary school.