The Nigerian Army on Tuesday said the soldier that was crushed to death by a BRT bus did not ride his power bike on Bus Rapid Transit lane as alleged.
The Army was reacting to media reports that some BRT buses were vandalised by soldiers, who went on rampage on the day of the incident.
Deputy Director, Public Relations of the 81 Division, Lieutenant Colonel Omale Ochaguba, said in a statement that “the attention of 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to allegations and accusations making rounds and being bandied by some media organizations that soldiers attacked and vandalized BRT buses. We want to state here that nothing like that happened”.
Giving a background to what transpired, Ochaguba said on Friday July 4, 2014, a Lance Corporal of the Nigerian Army, who was on his way to the office on Ikorodu road around Obanikoro area, was knocked down and killed by a BRT bus with registration number KSF 995 XJ.
“It is pertinent to state here that the late soldier was riding a power bike approved by the state government and he was neither riding inside a BRT lane nor was the BRT bus that killed him on the BRT lane. The innocent law abiding soldier was killed on the normal lane being plied by everybody as against what is being alleged by some sections of the media. The soldier was hit from the rear and killed instantly”, he said.
He added that the mayhem that was unleashed on BRT buses was the handiwork of hoodlums, who according to him “seized the opportunity of the situation to vent their anger on the buses for reasons best known to them.
“We know the peculiar nature of Lagos, where miscreants always take advantage of situations like this to cause havoc. In a situation like this, people are bound to wrongfully accuse soldiers because they were seen around the offending bus which was not even attacked. With careful analysis of the incident, one will observe that the BRT buses vandalized were far removed from the scene of the accident”, he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Ochaguwba added: “It was the same soldiers who are being wrongfully accused of burning buses and causing mayhem were the ones that secured the BRT bus and protected it from hoodlums before it was later towed to the barracks for safety and also prevented the hoodlums from causing further mayhem on the road and cleared the route for traffic to flow. We have pictures of the bus at the scene of the accident and while it was being towed away to safety. The bus in question has since been released to the BRT management”.
The spokesman said some of the questions begging for answer now is, “why is it that the bus that killed the soldier which was already in soldiers’ hands not vandalized or burnt? Is it not logical that, it should have been the first target of their anger as alleged? These are hard times for Nigerians and all hands should be on deck to bring peace to the country rather than inflame passion”.
According to him, “The Lagos State government, which is supposed to be the most aggrieved party did not jump into conclusion. The Lagos State government said they are investigating; that is a mature way of handling situations, rather than reacting on public opinion”.
The Army also reacted to a statement credited to Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka wherein he described the action of the soldiers as “mad”.
The statement said: “In a situation where a respected elder statesman will stand up in a public function and based on hear-say, call a respected professional organisation like the Nigerian Army, which is one of the major pillars of democracy and fighting to keep the country together as mad, is unfortunate and unbecoming”.
It further noted that in less than a week, Prof. Soyinka has made two careless offensive statements, adding that “At times, he seems to speak before weighing the consequences of his statement”.
The Army reiterated that it is a professional force, which is law-abiding like any other citizen and as a highly disciplined organization, it also takes necessary steps to see that its erring members are brought to book at any time the need arises to enforce discipline.