Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has advised the Nigerian Army authorities to apologize for battering popular thespian Chiwetalu Agu.
Mr Agu was on Thursday assaulted by soldiers in Onitsha, Anambra State, for putting on an attire which had traceable colors of the Biafran flags.
Despite trending video clip showing how the Nollywood actor was manhandled, army spokesman, Onyema Nwachukwu, said he was not assaulted as multimedia contents circulating online showed.
Mr Nwachukwu accused the actor who is still being detained of soliciting support for the outlawed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), a contrary account of Mr Agu who was on a charity mission to the less privileged when he was assaulted.
Cautioning the military to halt embarrassing itself Internationally, Mr Effiong said the attire of the celebrated actor ought not to have warranted the soldiers to attack him.
“The allegation that he is recruiting for or supporting IPOB is unsupported by evidence,” Mr Effiong said in his opinion article. “It is a way of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Discerning Nigerians can see through the smoke screen.
“The military has no power in a constitutional democracy to arrest citizens; except in very special and exceptional circumstances like during war, state of emergency, insurrection or riot. Even at that, it has to be shown that the Police has been overwhelmed,” he added.
The legal practitioner described the action of the soldiers as illegal, unconscionable and unwarranted and beckoned on them to apologize and compensate to the actor, an advise the military is not known to adhere to.
“What did Chiwetalu Agu do that overwhelmed the Nigeria Police Force to warrant the Army stepping in to aid the police in arresting him?” he queried. “We have become so used to lawlessness, impunity and flagrant disregard for the fundamental rights of citizens that we now condone whatever nonsense is thrown at us by the authorities.
“Wearing a cloth with colours similar to the Biafran flag is not defined as an offence under any written law in this country. It is IPOB that was proscribed, not Biafra.
“A significant portion of the Nigerian population still sees Biafra as an idea. No government can kill an idea that people are emotionally attached to by deploying the military. History has shown that the best way to defeat an idea is by propagating a superior and more persuasive idea.
“The Army should apologize to the iconic actor and pay him adequate compensation for subjecting him to harassment and public humiliation,” he advised.