The Nigerian Army has debunked reports alleging that soldiers tortured a man Christian Ehima to death in Benin, Edo State.
Army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu in a statement on Saturday said the army has utmost respect for the sanctity of human life and zero tolerance for infringement on the rights of citizens.
He said that evidence indicated that Mr Ehima wandered into a military checkpoint at Igbanke in Benin on December 10 without his clothes on, and was halted by soldiers on duty.
Nwachukwu explained that Ehima was interrogated but could not explain where he was coming from or heading to, adding that his behaviour was rather weird and indicative of someone under some sort of influence.
He said the guard commander, who observed the abnormal behaviour of the deceased, immediately requested for his phone in an effort to contact any of his relations, friends or associates.
Nwachukwu explained that a call came through to Ehima’s phone shortly after and the caller identified herself as his mother and she was invited to pick up her son, who was still very agitated and unstable.
According to him, the mother arrived at the scene and identified herself as a police officer and was briefed about her son’s observed abnormal behaviour.
“On sighting his mother, his behaviour became aggravated. Thereafter, some passers-by were mobilised to help her take him to the hospital. In her conversation with the soldiers, she attributed her son’s weird behaviour to the influence of alcohol, but soldiers present maintained that whatever was responsible for Ehima’s behaviour at that time was way beyond alcohol.
“It is also important to state that the incident was recorded both on video and audio, showing the behaviour of Christian Ehima and his mother commending the soldiers for their kind intervention. The evidence, including audio recordings of the police officer and her son are attached.
“Surprisingly, this unfortunate incident has been falsely reported in the social media without recourse to the reality of what transpired on the said date,’’ he stated.
Nwachukwu urged the public to disregard what he described as “misguided information’’, saying it was clearly manipulative and an attempt to bring the Nigerian Army to disrepute.