IN what was reminiscent of a scene from our inglorious past military regimes, some officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Safety, NAFSI, recently took the law into their hands. They invaded the Osun State University’s College of Education, Ipetu-Ijesa campus, and launched an offensive against students and staff of the institution.
Their mission was apparently to arrest some students allegedly involved in internet fraud popularly called “yahoo yahoo” in local parlance. Gun butts were freely used on anyone on sight. At the end of the bloody attack, six of the 11 students injured were admitted in hospitals. Others, including two academic staff members, were treated for injuries.
The implacable Air Force men threatened to shoot the Dean of Student Affairs, when she pleaded with them to spare the students. They backed off only after their Commandant was called to intervene. Students’ off-campus residences were violently combed by the rampaging NAF personnel and residents found were molested.
A similar incident had occurred in Calabar about three months ago. Some personnel of one of the security agencies stormed a girls’ secondary school and beat up teachers over alleged disciplinary action meted out to one of the students whose mother invited the operatives to assault teachers.
The Air Force is a highly professional service that does not tolerate any act of indiscipline and brutality from its officers and men. If the students were involved in internet fraud, it is the duty of the Police to investigate, and prosecute culprits. Even if the offence was committed against military men, it was not an excuse for the officers to resort to an act of brigandage that exposed the NAF to public ridicule.
The presence of NAF Safety Institute in the area is supposed to assure residents, including the university community, of their security. They are not there to unleash terror on the people at the slightest provocation. They are not regular law enforcement agents and they should not assume the duty of the Police.
Nigeria is under a democratic dispensation and all security agencies, including the military, must subordinate themselves to civil authority. All forms of impunity and lawlessness cannot be condoned.
We are worried at rising cases of military brutality, and sadly, it appears that all the uniformed services have been implicated in such acts of lawlessness.
We condemn the unruly conduct of the Air Force men and hope the authorities of the Force will keep their promise to thoroughly investigate and bring the culprits to justice. They should go beyond merely condemning the activities of their unruly officers and take steps to ensure that such an ugly incident is never repeated in the future.