Human RightsNews

Citizens Demand Justice For Cleric Allegedly Killed By Nigerian Soldier

While the Nigerian Army has stated that it is working with police to ensure that the suspects face the wrath of both civil and martial law, Nigerians have continued to demand that justice be served as soon as possible.

Nigerians have continued to demand justice after a Nigerian soldier allegedly killed the Islamic cleric, Sheikh Goni Aisami, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, while attempting to rob his vehicle in Jaji-Maji, Karasuwa area of Yobe State, Northeast Nigeria.

Several sources, including those involved in the investigation of the murder case, have confirmed that the soldier from Nguru Army Barrack asked for a ride from the cleric, whom he shot dead midway to their destination along Kano-Gashuwa road. 

Vigilantes reportedly discovered the cleric’s body after the soldier summoned them to assist him and a colleague with another car that became faulty after he couldn’t start the cleric’s car. 

The vigilante officers then apprehended the two soldiers, called the police, and handed over the suspects with their guns. 

“The incident is a confirmation of what has mostly been in the realm of speculation – that members of the security services do moonlight as armed robbers using their service uniforms and weapons,” said Raji Bello, a public analyst. 

“If these two soldiers had gotten away without being arrested, the incident would have passed off as an ordinary armed robbery and Nigerians would never have known that it was perpetrated by soldier-robbers. I’m sure that it is everyone’s expectation that the Army would ensure swift justice for the victim and the weeding out of criminally-minded soldiers from its ranks.” 

On Twitter, Bello Shagari described the murder of the Aisami as a “sad reflection of our society”. 

Sunusi Umar Sadiq, a Kano-based lawyer, criticised the Nigerian military’s foundation, which he claims makes them feel above the law by “wasting” people’s lives and confiscating their property. 

“I always say that the Nigerian Army is not Nigerian at all because its provenance dates back to the West African Frontier Forces (WAFF), which the British used to conquer the Nigerian Area at the beginning of the last century. 

“Thus, the aim of the army is not to protect the people but to conquer, subdue and subjugate them. And this still is the working philosophy. Nigerian soldiers are trained to treat Nigerian civilians with utmost contempt, insensitivity and impunity. 

“He is trained to feel that he is above the law of the land. He feels he can ‘waste’ a life and nothing will happen. And in reality, nothing does happen,” he said. 

Nigerian soldiers have been accused of killing civilians and extortions, particularly in the conflict-torn Northeast of the country. In 2017, a soldier, John Godwin, was sentenced to death for the murder of five civilians. 

Olufunke Lawson highlighted on Twitter that the situation unravels the Nigerians’ fears that some soldiers could work with terrorists for money.

The police in Yobe stated that an investigation into the murder case is ongoing, as two suspects involved in the incident have been apprehended, adding that more information would be released to the public soon.

According to the Yobe Command police public relations officer, the two soldiers arrested have confessed to their crimes, but further investigation will be conducted to fully understand the situation.

The Nigerian Army has also promised to investigate the incident, stating that it is collaborating with the Yobe Police Command to identify the perpetrators before subjecting them to the wrath of both military and civil laws.

“This incident is highly regrettable given the Sectors disposition and zero tolerance on violation of Code of Conduct and Rules of engagement for troops,” a statement signed by the army spokesperson Kennedy Anyanwu said. 

Speaking on the issue, Yobe State Governor Maimala Buni called for calm and assured that justice would be served.

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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu is an Assistant Editor at HumAngle and Head of the Radicalism and Extremism Desk. He has years of experience researching misinformation and influence operations. He is passionate about analysing jihadism in Africa and has published several articles on the topic. His work has been featured in various local and international publications.

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