The Nigerian Army has reacted to the death of an undergraduate of Computer Science at the University of Benin, Christian Ehima.
Christian’s mother, an Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to the Delta State Police Command, Mercy Ehima, had said that her son was tortured to death by some soldiers at the Railway Checkpoint in Igbanke, Edo State.
Mercy said her son was travelling to a village called Ewesa in Edo before Benin on Friday, December 10, 2021, and had unknowingly boarded a kidnappers’ vehicle.
According to the 53-year-old widow, the kidnappers stumbled on the soldiers’ checkpoint and reversed immediately.
“My son said he jumped down from the vehicle in the process and ran into the bush. He said he sent me a text message in the bush but I didn’t come. He said as he was proceeding in the bush, he saw a big snake and jumped out of the bush. He (Christian) said he ran to the army checkpoint, which was about four poles away. He said he thought the soldiers would come to his aid but as he was about to narrate his ordeal to them, they kicked him and he fell on the ground and they started to hit him,” she said.
Mercy said she met her son in a pit by the checkpoint and rushed him to the hospital but the young man died hours later from internal bleeding.
Reacting, Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement on Saturday said contrary to allegations by the policewoman, the soldiers at the checkpoint did not assault her son.
The statement read, “The NA being a professional force has utmost respect for the sanctity of human life and zero tolerance for infringement on the rights of the citizenry.
“While the NA sympathises with the family of late Christian over this unfortunate incident, it is instructive to put the records in proper perspective, contrary to the misgivings peddled on social media.
“Incontrovertible evidence indicates that Christian Ehima wandered into a military checkpoint at Wire-Ake in Edo State on the 10 December 2021, without his clothes on, and was halted by soldiers on duty. He was interrogated but could not say anything meaningful on where he was coming from or heading. His behaviour was rather weird and indicative of one who was obviously under some sort of influence.
“The Guard Commander, who observed his abnormal behaviour immediately requested for his phone in an effort to contact any of his relations, friends or associates. Shortly afterwards, a call came through to his phone and the caller identified herself as his mother. The soldier invited her to pick up her son, who was still very agitated and unstable.
“Subsequently, the woman arrived the scene and identified herself as his mother and a police officer. She was briefed about her son’s observed abnormal behaviour. In her conversation with the soldiers, she attributed her son’s weird behaviour to the influence of alcohol. The soldiers, however, maintained, that whatever was responsible for Christian’s behaviour at that time, was way beyond alcoholism. On sighting his mother his behaviour aggravated. Thereafter, some passersby were mobilised to help her take him to the hospital.
“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.
“The general public are urged to disregard this misguided information, as it is clearly manipulative and evidently an attempt to bring disrepute to the NA.”