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Nigeria's military: officers but not gentlemen

An assault earlier this month by Nigerian naval ratings on a woman for allegedly failing to make way for their boss in traffic has sparked a wave of protests about the way the military treats civilians.

Long ruled by the army, the west African West Africa

A region of western Africa between the Sahara Desert and the Gulf of Guinea. It was largely controlled by colonial powers until the 20th century.

West African adj. & n.
 powerhouse returned to civilian rule in 1999, but critics say that nearly a decade later that the "garrison mentality The garrison mentality is a common theme in Canadian literature and Canadian cinema, in both English Canada and French Canada. In texts with the garrison mentality, characters are always looking outwards and building metaphorical walls against the outside world. " still reigns and that men in uniform enjoy a large degree of impunity IMPUNITY. Not being punished for a crime or misdemeanor committed. The impunity of crimes is one of the most prolific sources whence they arise. lmpunitas continuum affectum tribuit delinquenti. 4 Co. 45, a; 5 Co. 109, a. .

Half a dozen aides to Rear Admiral Harry Aroundade dragged Uzoma Okere out of her car after she allegedly did not pull out of the way in time for the convoy of the two-star general.

Okere, 27, was beaten up and had her blouse stripped off in broad daylight in an up-market residential area of Lagos.

She sustained cuts to the head and whip lacerations to the chest and arms requiring three outpatient hospital visits.

She has started legal action against the navy.

"It was in a very bad traffic situation and the naval guys expected me to get out of their way just because they wanted to pass through," she told AFP (1) (AppleTalk Filing Protocol) The file sharing protocol used in an AppleTalk network. In order for non-Apple networks to access data in an AppleShare server, their protocols must translate into the AFP language. See file sharing protocol. .

The attack which was filmed by workers in nearby offices and posted on the Internet and shown on local television, forced President Umaru Yar'Adua to order an investigation.

"Immediately the story broke ... he ordered the Chief of Defense Staff to investigate and report back to him," YarAdua's spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi told AFP.

Days later, the country's parliament discussed the incident as a matter of urgent national importance. The lawmakers condemned the abuse of sirens by security forces and "many big men".

The bulk of the Lagos road system was built more than 20 years ago when the city had less than half its current population of some 16 million.

Sirens blaring, military personnel, politicians and their wives and top businessmen weave their way through the gridlocked grid·lock  
1. A traffic jam in which no vehicular movement is possible, especially one caused by the blockage of key intersections within a grid of streets.

 traffic behind pickup trucks filled with surly gun-toting police.

Lagos residents are normally resigned to the practice but the assault on Okere went a step too far, with a columnist in the Tribune newspaper calling it "a case of beasts against a human being".

The main opposition Action Congress party described the attack as "barbaric, appalling and unacceptable".

The Guardian newspaper said the incident "has once again tainted taint  
v. taint·ed, taint·ing, taints
1. To affect with or as if with a disease.

2. To affect with decay or putrefaction; spoil. See Synonyms at contaminate.

 Nigeria's image... and portrayed the country as a place where human rights are brazenly abused especially by the military".

Amnesty International Amnesty International (AI,) human-rights organization founded in 1961 by Englishman Peter Benenson; it campaigns internationally against the detention of prisoners of conscience, for the fair trial of political prisoners, to abolish the death penalty and torture of , in a report earlier this year, slammed "the entrenched en·trench   also in·trench
v. en·trenched, en·trench·ing, en·trench·es
1. To provide with a trench, especially for the purpose of fortifying or defending.

 culture of impunity for human rights violations committed by the police and security forces".

Chief Air staff Air Marshal Oluseyi Petirin last week pledged "we will continue to talk to our officers ... that you don't brutalise v. t. 1. to treat brutally.
2. to cause to become like a brute; as, life in the concentration camp had brutalised him s>.
v. i. 1. to become brutal.

Verb 1.
 those persons you have sworn to protect".

Okere, herself the daughter of Emmanuel Okere, a retired colonel who is now the national assembly's sergeant-at-arms, said it has taken the military a long time "to get over the days when the government was run by them".

"In Nigeria ... a garrison mentality pervades the land and men in uniform have not learned to adjust to the democratic dispensation DISPENSATION. A relaxation of law for the benefit or advantage of an individual. In the United States, no power exists, except in the legislature, to dispense with law, and then it is not so much a dispensation as a change of the law. ," said The Guardian.

The Okere attack made the headlines but it is no isolated incident.

Earlier this year, a female motorist was assaulted after allegedly failing to give way on time for the convoy of a state governor in Lagos.

Last year a navy officer shot a motorcyclist for allegedly blocking his way, also in Lagos.
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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Nov 16, 2008
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