Overzealous Soldier Cuts Pastor's Hair At Checkpoint, Says He Looks Like A 'Gangster'
BEVERLY HILLS, September 22, (THEWILL) - Another case of human right abuse by officers and men of the Nigerian Army came to the fore on Monday in Warri, the commercial hub of Delta State as an overzealous soldier attached to the 3 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Effurun, allegedly shaved a pastor's hair at a checkpoint, alleging that the man looked like a 'gangster'.
THEWILL learnt that the soldier whose identity was not immediately known reportedly used a pair of scissors to design a cross, a symbol of the Christian faith on the clergyman's hair ostensibly to mock him.
The cleric, who is the General Overseer and Founder of Tower of Faith Ministries, Rev.Felix Omas, THEWILL learnt was riding in a tricycle along the Alegbor area of Effurun, near Warri after he parked his SUV car following a traffic gridlock in a bid to catch up with an appointment when he was accosted by the soldiers who reportedly 'ordered' him to alight from the tricycle, popularly known as 'Keke'.
Sources said that on getting to the checkpoint, one of the soldiers on the duty post, asked the man to come down from the 'Keke' which he obliged but surprisingly the soldier brought out a scissor and started trimming the man's hair to the bewilderment of others passengers in the 'keke'.
THEWILL couldn't immediately verify the rationale behind the action of the soldier but a source said that the community people in Alegbor had asked soldiers on guard duty in the area to tame their youths of rascality particularly the ones who are fond of sagging their jeans trouser and cutting gangster's styles of haircut.
Sources said that a top army officer who didn't want to be named had laughed off the incident, saying how can a clergyman cut 'punk' style of hair, adding that the man of over 60 years of age was ironically looking like one of the youths in the area who 'sag' their jeans and were into gangsterism in the area which the community had asked the soldiers at the checkpoint to help check.
Narrating his experience to newsmen, the cleric said; 'I was driving in my SUV but due to traffic situation, I boarded a tricycle. The soldiers stopped our tricycle as we were coming from Alegbor and sat me down before cutting my hair, saying that my hair style violates their rules.'
The cleric said he was heading to Warri with one of his colleagues when the soldier forced him out and use scissors to mutilate his new haircut.
He said that an attempt to resist the humiliation by the soldier was met with a threat from the other soldiers who threatened to shoot him.
Meanwhile, the authorities of the Nigerian Army, 3 Battalion Effurun, have arrested the power drunk soldier attached to the Alegbor check point for allegedly assaulting the cleric.
THEWILL learnt that the incident which had embarrassed the authority of the Nigerian Army in Effurun had prompted the arrest and detention of the soldiers after the cleric protested the assault on him before newsmen at the NUJ Warri Secretariat where he narrated his ordeal in the hands of the soldiers .
But a Warri-based human rights lawyer and Executive Director of the Centre for the Vulnerable and the Under Privileged, (CENTREP), Barr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, who reacted to the incident, described the action of the soldiers as inhuman and a degrading treatment under Section 34 sub section 1 of the I999 constitution as amended.
He said the soldiers deserved to be charged and prosecuted for the offence to serve as a deterrent to other overzealous officers.
'I will take the Army to court to enforce the Pastor's human rights. This will serve as a deterrent to other gun-totting uniform personnel who see civilians as non-human.
Ikimi however promised to offer free legal aid to Omas and other victims of military brutality.
When contacted, a top officer of the 3 Battalion who craved anonymity however confirmed that the soldier who committed the offence has been arrested and will be charged after preliminary investigation.
“What he did was wrong, he said that the community asked them to cut hair of youths with various styles, so that was why he did it.
“We never sent soldiers to cut people's hair, we sent them for security of lives. What he did is bad because the Pastor is an elderly
person, he will face military disciplinary action,' the officer said.