Kidnapping: Prelate Uche’s allegation — Nigerian Tribune Editorial

Posted by News Express | 6 June 2022 | 327 times

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•Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Uche.


The fact that accusations that the Nigerian Army is probably complicit in several high-profile cases of kidnapping across the country won’t go away should be of concern to the military authorities and the Federal Government. The latest accusations have surfaced in the aftermath of the kidnapping of the Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Uche. Dr. Uche, his Chaplain, the Very Rev. Abidemi Shittu and the Methodist Bishop of Owerri Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark, were abducted last Sunday along the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. The abductees were released the following day after church members and other well-wishers mobilised to pay the N100 million ransom demanded by the kidnappers.

Addressing the media following their release, the Prelate expressed frustration that their ordeal unfolded right under the nose of soldiers who had been posted to the area for the specific purpose of preventing what happened to them: “Where they [the kidnappers] are situated, there were soldiers of Fulani extraction around the area at Nnoma junction and these boys were going behind them. Meanwhile, they kept their cows somewhere, numbering about 200.”

This is not the first time that the military has come under fire for alleged collusion with bandits wreaking havoc on hapless citizens. In 2018, no less a person than former army chief General Theophilus Danjuma had advised beleaguered farming communities in Taraba State to “defend yourselves or you will all die” because, according to him, the army had been “compromised.” Since then, numerous allegations of collusion with bandits have been brought against the Nigerian military. Since there is no proof that all of such allegations have been frivolous, Nigerians deserve to know what really has been going on. There was certainly no need for the army to have failed to probe the sundry allegations against its men with a view to uncovering the truth. Trust is a key element of civil-military relations and where it is lacking, and then the country faces a dilemma.

The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. General Onyema Nwachukwu, has denied the Methodist Prelate’s allegation, insisting that “the insinuation that troops are complicit in the kidnap incident is not premised on any findings of investigations and, therefore, unacceptable.” While General Nwachukwu has every right to respond to an allegation that, if established, could prove damaging to the aura and prestige of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian military as a whole, we are worried that he seems to have put the cart before the horse by pronouncing the army innocent even though no investigation has been conducted.

At any rate, whether the army is directly complicit or not, the fact that the kidnapping took place within the vicinity, if not in open defiance, of its troops does not look good. And that was not the first time military-dominated areas have been breached with impunity by outlaws. What does it say about the Nigerian Army that untrained bandits get the better of it on such a regular basis, to such an extent that many Nigerians now doubt whether it is still capable of discharging its constitutional duties? Can it not rout these criminals, some of whom have been reported to have been attired in military camouflage while perpetrating sundry acts of criminality?

The whole shameful saga is a reminder of the ugly and fast deteriorating security situation in the country, about which the Buhari administration seems incapable of doing anything other than offering the usual platitudes.

Source: News Express

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