Some military personnel deployed to restore normalcy after the violence that followed #EndSARS protest in Oyo State, have been caught on camera attacking and harassing innocent residents.
The reported incidents happened in Beere, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, sources in the community said.
One soldier flogged a woman in public, and others shaved men on the streets using scissors.
A shocking video recording shows a woman forced to sit on a bare floor by a soldier who repeatedly whipped her buttock with what seemed like a leather belt.
The woman wore a camisole and an orange hair, and despite begging repeatedly, the soldier continued to assault her until the end of the 41 seconds’ video as onlookers stood nearby.
As he flogged, the soldier repeatedly ordered the helpless woman to “remove your hand”.
Residents said that the woman was beaten by the uniformed personnel for “indecent dressing”.
They went further to state that the military personnel sent to the community had carried out several attacks on innocent people prompting parents to take their children off the streets.
Some soldiers shaved the heads of some youth in the community claiming they were “indecent hairstyles”, residents said.
“Many parents had to plead with their kids not to go out in Beere yesterday because of the Operation Burst guys,” Titilayo Akani who lives in the community said to our correspondent, referring to the code-name of the army unit blamed for the incidents.
One of the youth, whose head was shaved by the soldiers, narrated his travails on Twitter. He disclosed that he was forced to alight from a motorcycle.
“I was on a motorcycle with my friends around Beere when I was stopped by soldiers. They said they wanted to see us. I was wondering what I had done because I wasn’t in possession of any weapon and I am not a fraudster,” he said.
They said I should take off my cap and when I did so, they flogged me and asked me to kneel down. When I asked what my crime was, he ordered me to sit down and then brought out a pair of scissors from his pocket. The funny thing was that they collected money from us for the haircut, he said speaking in Yoruba in another video.
Another youth, who was also assaulted, said he was coming from church when the officers called him and told him “welcome to Beere international barbing salon, that was when everything was unravelled to me because I saw one of the officers holding a scissor.”
“He asked me to sit on the floor which I did, he further said Nigerians can only be handled with iron hands, that we can be likened to an animal. And there I was asked to bring my head closer so that the cutting could be done. There I told the officer that it is not safe in this era of pandemic to use such on people whom they have no record about their health status.” Rather than listen to him, the soldiers slapped him,” he said.
Nigerians on social media on Monday expressed outrage over the attacks.
Attacks on civilians by operatives of the Nigerian armed forces are rampant, prompting calls by citizens for the government to reign in errant officials.
The EndSARS protest was launched over unwarranted attacks by the police special unit, SARS. Before being scrapped weeks ago, the unit was notorious for extortion, harassment and extrajudicial killings.
It was reported, last week how officers of the Nigerian Air Force ordered curfew defaulters to lie face down in the mud while they flogged them in Ilesha, Osun State.
The Nigerian Air force later claimed the officers had been arrested.
When contacted about the latest incidents, the spokesperson of the Nigerian army, Sagir Musa, did not respond to this newspaper’s calls and text messages.
The state Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Seun Fakorede, described the conduct of the soldiers as “unlawful”.
Mr Fakorede said the officers have been arrested and taken in for disciplinary actions.
“My ears are full of news of the unlawful activities of some Soldiers of the Nigerian Army, over the weekend,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I have immediately reached out to the Commandant of the Operation Burst and I’ve been assured that the men involved in this distasteful operation have been arrested and taken to the barracks — they will be dealt with accordingly.
“This will not repeat itself again in Oyo State. Please, kindly go about your daily business and activities without fear. Thank you.”
He said the security outfit, Operation Burst, has admitted the video and apologised to the families of those assaulted by the erring officers.