The soldiers’ assault on Chijioke

Sir: The assault of some soldiers on citizen Chijioke Uruaku is a case of lynching. It was the alchemisation of brutality as a language of supremacy. It was brutishness climaxing to masturbatory satisfaction!

Yet, the brutalisation of Chijioke was beyond lynching. It had the trappings of theatre. It was a gladiatorial mismatch in a public arena.

Two able-bodied men attacking one crippled man. Two soldiers abusing a single civilian. A synergy of two demolishing the loneliness of one. And a crowd of enthralled spectators watching the blood sport.

Chijioke’s offence? He wore a pair of camouflage trousers. The self-appointed fashion police judged him guilty of coveting an exclusive outfit of the Nigerian Army. The ‘bloody civilian’ engaged in identity theft of sorts.

Was the curious fashion sense of the man sufficient to incite the soldiers to instant madness? Was there anything outrageous about the dress that excited the animal in the soldiers to run wild? What was abominable about a civilian wearing a camouflage that drove the soldiers to shame their own uniform?

The Nigerian soldier is susceptible to the illusion of grandeur. He tends to reckon his uniform is the symbol of his exceptionalism.

The duel between the willing soldier and the reluctant civilian is one, which the soldier is certain to win. It’s pointless. But it feeds the arrogance of the soldier to orchestrate an easy, one-sided cockfight

The bully is, in most cases, a puny man contending with inferiority complex. The soldier hankering for a face-off with a civilian may be seeking to narcotise his low self-esteem. There is an evanescent feeling of high obtainable from proving yourself stronger than the next person.

Or the appetite for bullying could be a manifestation of unattended mental health issues. Our soldiers fight in deadly combat zones, witness a lot of gore, and internalise unspeakable horrors. The exposure haunts their mind and coarsens their sensitivity. It changes their person and their relationship with the world.

The Nigerian Army does not prioritise the mental health of Nigerian soldiers. The institution treats soldiers as robots, unaffected by the war scene and the feedback of the five senses.

The opposite extreme may equally apply: the Nigerian soldier may be so starved of front line action that he can’t help but exploit any opportunity to make an enemy out of a harmless civilian.

Or maybe, we are dealing with a pathology built into the training of the Nigerian soldier.

Someone wore a camo T-shirt. A soldier proceeded to ‘punish’ the civilian.

A Good Samaritan intervened to plead for the brutalised citizen. The soldier turned on the peacemaker and gifted him artificial blindness!

Emmanuel Ugwu

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