The army maintains the siege of Banex despite protests

Six days after a violent clash between traders and military personnel, soldiers continue to lay siege to Banex Plaza in the Wuse 2 area of ​​Abuja.

The Daily Trust correspondent who visited the market on Friday night found soldiers on the other side of the square.

The problems began when some thugs beat some soldiers who had a disagreement with a merchant in the square.

The dealer had reportedly sold a faulty phone to someone who invited soldiers. Instead of resolving the problem amicably, the merchant allegedly invited thugs who attacked the uniformed officers.

They attacked at least two soldiers and another man dressed as a mufti. The thugs who divided into groups slapped, kicked and punched the soldiers.

Although the police intervened to resolve the situation, soldiers later stormed the square, forcing the merchants to close immediately.

In a statement on Tuesday, Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu said the plaza was closed to give them time to fish out the hoodlums behind Saturday’s incident.

“In response to this unfortunate incident, a meeting was called with the management of Banex Plaza to identify and arrest the perpetrators of this heinous act by temporarily closing activities in the plaza to ensure that the thugs who have been using the Banex neighborhood as sanctuary for posing a threat to the security of the Federal Capital Territory were detained.”

“This supports the need for a thorough on-site investigation to determine the immediate and underlying causes of this chaos. Ultimately, this investigation aims to ensure the security of the Federal Capital Territory and prevent unjustified attacks on its own personnel and other security agents, as has been observed in other areas, such as the unfortunate attack in Okuama. The Nigerian Army will also ensure that it diligently investigates the circumstances surrounding the presence of the personnel in the square and the attack that followed,” he had said.

But human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), opposed the military action and called on the Nigerian army to stop the continued occupation of the popular electronics market.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Falana stated that instead of calling the soldiers who closed the market to order, the military authorities justified resorting to self-help.

“Neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act authorizes the Nigerian military to investigate criminal offenses affecting citizens who are not subject to the service law.”

“It is time for the armed forces to realize that in a country where the rule of law governs, institutions and individuals are not allowed to take the law into their own hands. Therefore, the Chief of Army Staff, General Lagbaja, must ensure that the Banex Plaza is reopened without further delay.

“Soldiers who were beaten in the market should be advised to press charges against their attackers.”

However, a former chief of the Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor (rtd), defended the military action.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS, Irabor said: “The Banex incident is very sad. Sad in the sense that when you see a soldier in uniform, armed or not… This applies to any person in uniform as long as they are an agent of the State. An attack on him is an attack on the State and any Nigerian of good will must condemn such an act.

“For me, I join in supporting the closure of Banex Plaza for as long as necessary so that those responsible for this cowardly act are brought to justice. This is because if we don’t, we will be calling for anarchy.”

The presidency and ministry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have remained silent on the issue.