The House of Representatives has called on the Nigerian Army to immediately release Lance Corporal Martins Idakpein, who is held by the force, for criticising the fight against terror in the Northeast.
The call was consequent upon the approval of a motion sponsored by minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta).
Presenting the motion, Elumelu informed that on “22nd of June 2020, Lance Corporal Martins ldakpein from the 8 Division Sokoto of the Nigeria Army, made an online video wherein he condemned the lackadaisical attitude of security chiefs towards the incessant attacks and killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram and other armed groups in the northern part of our country”.
He said the corporal: “Mentioned that the nation’s security chiefs had failed Nigerians in their duty to protect the country and its citizens by not showing any serious commitment towards the fight against these continuous attacks by dissidents, bandits and criminals in the northern part of the country, thereby putting the whole nation in a state of panic and uncertainties.”
Elumelu expressed worry that: “Instead of the security chiefs after seeing the video to buckle up and be up to their duties in protecting the country and its populace, the Chief of Army Ataff ordered that Lance Corporal Martins be arrested and moved from Sokoto to Abuja for speaking up against the army authorities.”
He said that: “Though section 121 of the Armed Forces Act, grants the military the restrictive powers to arrest its personnel but section ‘122(6) of the same act provides that such personnel is entitled to immediate release, unless the release will be a threat to national security and Lance Corporal Martins ldakpein has not proven to be a threat in any way.”
According to the minority leader: “Though Section l22 of the armed forces act forbids the military from perpetually detaining any officer, Lance Corporal Martins ldakpein, has been held in detention till date and his wife who tried to secure his release has also been detained too, this is an affront to the letters of chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended which guarantees the fundamental human rights of citizens.”
According to him, the military who are supposed to protect the territorial integrity as well as enforce the laws of our nation are in a habit of these “illegal, wrongful and unconstitutional detention of soldiers whenever they ask that the right things be done”.
He warned that: “If these trends are left unchecked, it may become a serious menace that can fan the embers of our nascent democracy for the wrong reason, hence the need for urgent intervention and caution to the Nigerian military.”
The House adopted his motion, urging the Military to release the Army personnel in their detention, and desist from arbitrary arrests of its personnel with dissenting views on the fight against insurgency in the country.
The session was presided over by Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.