Falana Demands Immediate Reopening of Banex Plaza, Calls for Legal Action Against Assailants

In response to the recent violent clash between traders and soldiers at Banex Plaza in Abuja, human rights lawyer Femi Falana has called on the Nigerian Army to end the plaza’s illegal closure.

Falana has advised any soldiers who were assaulted during the incident to press charges, emphasizing the importance of addressing the situation through proper legal channels.

According to reports, the Army has sealed off the plaza since Saturday following a dispute over the sale of a faulty phone.

Defending its action, the Nigerian Army stated that the closure is temporary and it intends to facilitate the identification and arrest of individuals responsible for assaulting soldiers during the dispute.

However, in a statement released on Thursday, Falana urged Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, the Chief of Army Staff, to ensure the immediate reopening of the plaza and advised any affected soldiers to pursue legal action against their attackers.

In the statement, Falana referenced the account provided by the FCT Police Command spokesperson, Josephine Adeh, regarding the incident at the plaza.

“This action resulted in a confrontation and squabble with the military personnel. This development led some irate mobs to attack the military personnel, which led to an uproar in the environs.

“All parties were invited for questioning. The military personnel have been handed over to their organisation for necessary action to be taken.

“While normalcy has since been restored in Bannex and its environs, the Commissioner of Police FCT, Benneth Igweh urges residents to peacefully go about their lawful businesses without fear from any quarters.”

Femi Falana also expressed disappointment in the Nigerian Army’s handling of the Banex Plaza incident, condemning the military’s decision to deploy 50 armed soldiers to shut down the facility. Falana argues that the Army’s actions represent a dangerous resort to self-help rather than a proper response to the dispute between individuals.

Furthermore, he lament that instead of reprimanding the soldiers involved in the shutdown, the military authorities have sought to justify their actions.

“Maj-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, Army spokesman has said that the plaza was temporarily shut so as to take time to fish out the hoodlums behind Saturday’s incident,” he said.

Falana maintained that “neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act authorises the Nigerian Army to investigate criminal offences involving citizens who are not subject to service law”.

“It is high time that the armed forces were made to realise that in a country where the rule of law operates, institutions and individuals are not permitted to take the law into their hands.

“Therefore, the Chief of Army Staff, General Lagbaja, should ensure that the Banex Plaza is reopened without any further delay. The soldiers who were beaten up in the market should be advised to press charges against their assailants.

“Since the scuffle in the market was video recorded, it should not be difficult for the police to identify the suspects and arraign them for assault occasioning harm,” he advised.


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