Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has warned soldiers deployed in the state to desist from alleged extortion and molestation of residents.
Ikpeazu gave the warning in a statement by his Special Adviser on Information Communication Technology, Mr. John Okiyi, in Umuahia on Sunday.
In the statement entitled, “Call Your Men to Order”, Gov. Ikpeazu expressed worry that soldiers were allegedly extorting money from residents and subjecting innocent people to unwarranted “corporal punishments”.
He described the development as unwholesome, illegal and provocative, warning that the acts could trigger civil unrest and a breach of the existing peace in the state.
“The unwholesome activities of some men of the Nigerian Army, who have formed the habit of subjecting members of the civil populace to corporal punishments and extortion of money, have reached the government of Abia State.
“These acts are more prevalent along the Bende-Umuahia road, Ohafia town and within Aba and environs.
“These acts are not only illegal and extremely provocative, they are capable of triggering off civil unrest and a distortion of the peaceful atmosphere the government has worked hard to put in place,” Ikpeazu stated.
He assured that his administration would continue to cooperate with all security agencies in the discharge of their lawful operations in the state.
He, however, warned that government “shall not condone a situation where the presence of the army in the state becomes a platform to assault our people and subject them to inhuman and degrading treatments”.
The governor, therefore, charged the Commander, 14 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Ohafia and all heads of army formations in the state to closely monitor activities of their men and ensure that the practices were stopped immediately.
According to him, government shall no longer condone this unwarranted assault on the people of the state.
“Our people, as law-abiding citizens, are fully deserving of their basic freedom and fundamental rights to life, personal liberty and dignity of the human person,” Ikpeazu added.
Cases of assault, inhuman treatment, molestation and extortion of motorists, allegedly perpetrated by soldiers deployed to military checkpoints in strategic locations in the state, have been rampant.