From Femi Oyelola Kaduna
A businessman, Mr. Andy Ita Ukpe has called on the authority of the Nigerian Army to release the corpse of his 29 years old son, Solomon Ukpe who was killed while collecting sand in front of Command Secondary School, Kaduna in June 2017.
The depressed man made the call while speaking to the media in Kaduna yesterday.
Mr. Ukpe also said he is demanding a compensation of N700m from the Army authority in order to care for the two children left behind by his deceased son.
He said he decided to visit the Nigeria Union of Journalists’ Secretariat to cry out to Nigerians to impress on the Army to release the corpse to him for a befitting burial.
He alleged that his slain son was shot dead by private soldier ‘names withheld’ who was recruited into the Army in 2016.
He narrated that his son who was a carpenter went to the site to collect sand for block making when the soldiers attached to the Command Secondary School asked him to stop which he obliged.
“He tried to explain himself and the soldier pretended to have agreed with him and gave him money to go and buy cigarette. But as he turned around to go and get the cigarette, the soldier shot him from back killing him instantly.
“The police came to the scene and picked the corpse to Gwamna Awan Gneral Hospital where the deposited it. But to our surprise, the Army went and collected the body of my son from the mortuary without notifying me.
“They did that under a false personality because when they went and took the body, the paper that enabled them to take his body away read civilian identity. But when I called the contact line that was on the paper, the respondent said he was a goat seller at Tudun Wada.
“So I called the 1 Division and no response for two days. But on the third day, one Captain eventually picked the call and confirmed taking the body from Gwamna Awan General Hospital but declined telling me where it was taken to for one week.
“It was at that point I contacted the Human Rights Commission and I was told to visit the 44 Army Reference Hospital Kaduna which I did even though I was not comfortable with the mutilated body of my son. I saw him and 21 others not properly kept.
“The reason for transferring the body from Gwamna Awan General Hospital to 44 Army Reference Hospital was to retract the bullet from his body so they would know whether it was from their soldier. This is surprising even when the soldier in question had admitted committing the crime. Since June last year, we are still where we are in a country that is guarded by a constitution.
“The Human Rights Commission later went to the 1 Div and said the GOC wanted to see me. But each time I went there, it is either the GOC is on one assignment or the other. We have not been able to see to discuss.
“We have even written to the Chief of Army Staff but no response in any way. They are saying order has to come from above and that is where we are today.
Mr. Ukpe however said, if after exploring all the available avenues to resolve this matter amicably, the family would be left with no option than to seek legal redress.
When contacted, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 1 Division Mechanized Nigerian Army, Kduna, Colonel Dole declined to comment on the allegation, saying, “He could not make any comment on the matter.”