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Banex Plaza: A descent into idiocy

Banex Plaza: A descent into idiocy
May 22
16:06 2024

In life, there are consequences for our actions and inaction. You cannot sow corn and reap yam. It is against the law of nature. What goes up must come down. Those who perpetuated the mobbing of soldiers at the famous Banex Plaza in Abuja descended into idiocy. There would be consequences that would serve as a deterrent. You can take this to the bank. 

After I learned of the incident, I called a friend who sells phones and accessories at Banex Plaza. He was full of regret. He lamented for the better part of our conversation. I listened to him attentively because he exhibited anxiety. The fear of the consequences of such an action may suffice.

I asked what happened, and the response was disappointing. According to him, a soldier bought a phone and returned afterwards to complain of a fault in the phone. He was told it would cost him fifteen thousand naira to fix it. The soldier protested because he just bought the phone. It could have been a manufacturers defect or a users fault. Either way, the outcome is unjustifiable.

In the ensuing melee, all hell broke loose. He was beaten mercilessly alongside a colleague who accompanied him. They were in their uniforms, and unarmed. But it didn’t matter to the lynch mob at the time.

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This is a descent into idiocy. An inexcusable one, and a trend that is fast gaining momentum. It is not normal for a civilian to assault anyone in military uniform. Even if you don’t respect the individual, you must respect his uniform. The uniform symbolizes respect. However, this recent incident exposed little or no respect for the Nigerian military.

Banex Plaza has been sealed for obvious reasons. I am sure those who carried out the act would be apprehended. But a part of the consequence would be that other businesses would be affected. It is normal, and there should not be much hullabaloo. I am sure if any of the soldiers had died from the attack, it would have been a different story.

My position on this issue is to declare it a descent into idiocy. There is no better language to express this. I condemn the incident in the strongest possible terms.  You cannot touch anyone in military uniform. The uniform represents loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honour, integrity and personal courage. It reminds me of Psalms105:15: “Touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm.”

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This trend of attacking military personnel in uniform must be addressed. It is an act of disrespect and provocation. The Banex Plaza incident, where two soldiers were beaten to a pulp, is a dangerous one. It was an assault on our sensibilities as a country and a people. Please don’t ask me if there will be dire consequences. You can hazard a guess, conclude, and separate fantasy from reality.

You can accuse me of being hard in my position. I can understand because I am not in denial. As a military historian, I know the enormous sacrifices made by the military to keep the country safe and secure. Membership in the military is a sacrificial one—an oath to maintain the country’s territorial integrity and defend the country from external aggression. Yet, two soldiers were beaten mercilessly.

Nigerians must condemn the Banex Plaza incident, and those with information that would lead to bringing the culprits to book should step out without fear or favour.  We must be careful not to give this an ethnic or religious colouration. It is already assuming that direction. I condemn it. Assaulting someone in uniform is an act of idiocy that was not propelled by ethnicity or religion.  No ethnicity or religion promotes violence in Nigeria. I stand to be corrected.

What happened at Banex Plaza was disorder and indiscipline—a very condemnable one. We may not be good students of history. There are several instances of such acts and the attendant consequences—the Military will act with decorum. However, lessons would be learned on the implications of assaulting uniformed personnel.

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I asked a lawyer colleague about ignorance in law. He screamed, “ignorantia juris non excusat, ” which is “a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely by being unaware of its content.” His response addressed my curiosity. I guess yours, too.

This is the case with the Banex Plaza incident. There should be no excuses—the military will address this issue with the utmost decorum, but with firmness. The method might be different from expectations. But the end would justify the means. The culprits would be brought to book, and it will certainly serve as an indelible lesson to the culprits and would-be offenders that assaulting the military is not just a path to tread, but one to ultimately avoid.

Respect for the military is a non-negotiable obligation. The military is central to whatever we desire as a people and country. I don’t know anyone who would disagree with this position. I am a military historian. I know what some don’t know. My commitment to this constituency remains unflinching.

Ocheja, a military historian and doctoral researcher, can be reached via [email protected]

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