Private Hannah Sofiat A., a female soldier who accepted a marriage proposal from a male corps member at the National Youth Service Corps Orientation Camp in Yikpata, Kwara State, would be penalized for breaking military rules and regulations, the Nigerian Army announced on Sunday.
Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the Director of Army Public Relations, told The PUNCH that the female officer broke military rules by engaging in a public display of affection with a paramilitary trainee – a corps member.
Private Hannah Sofiat A had been identified by SaharaReporters as the female soldier. After video clips of her being proposed to by a male corps member at the National Youth Service Corps orientation camp in Yikpata, Kwara State, went viral on social media, she was detained.
Captain M. M. Abdulahi, Kwara State NYSC Camp Commandant, had ordered the female soldier to be imprisoned at a military detention center in Ilorin pending further investigations, according to SaharaReporters.
A military source said she was detained for not “due for marriage, romancing on uniform publicly, absent on parade, indiscriminate behaviour, doing other things aside from her purpose in NYSC camp, disobedience to the standing order of social media rule and disobedience to ethics and tradition of the Nigerian Army.”
Some corps members were heard discussing a location thought to be the orientation camp’s parade area in one of the popular video clips.
The conversation was still going on when the yet-to-be-identified corps member, who is seen clutching a ring, got down on one knee and proposed to the soldier, who accepted.
The corps member then proceeded to place the ring on Sofiat’s very delighted finger, to the delight of others present.
She could also be seen savoring the moment as she kissed the ring at random intervals, her face lit up with grins. Later, the lovers had a tender embrace.
In another scene, the corps member was seen standing immediately behind Sofiat, wearing Sofiat’s military cap.
However, an Army spokesman said the female soldier had broken the Nigerian Army’s rules and regulations governing military personnel’s codes of conduct while on duty.
Nwachukwu said the female soldier’s actions amounted to exploiting her trainee, noting that if a male soldier proposed to a female corps member during the NYSC parade, the public would have been outraged and accused the Army of coercion.
He said, “The female soldier in question violated the following rules of the NA: fraternisation while on official duty at the NYSC camp. That is, indulging in an amorous relationship with a trainee.
“Personnel must have served for three years before he/she can qualify for marriage.
“She disobeyed the Armed Forces of Nigeria standing guidelines and directives for the use of Social Media. Indulging in romance while in uniform.
“Her conduct was prejudicial to good order and military discipline.
“All the above, if proven are in violation of extant laws with attendant disciplinary and penal implications.
“As personnel, her task was to train the Youth Corps members and not to indulge in amorous relationship with any of them. These rules were put in place for the purpose of proper administration and discipline in the Army. If I may ask, what if the soldier was a male? How would the public have perceived his action? Definitely, it would have been perceived as taking advantage of a female Corper, a trainee, put in his care for training.”
The Army spokesman, however, declined comments on the likely punishment the female soldier might get but said “the Nigerian Military like all others, has its disciplinary codes, distinct from that of the general society. All personnel have voluntarily undertaken to be bound by this code.”
Meanwhile, human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore has called for Sofiat’s immediate release.
According to the activist in a Facebook post, there is no law that prevents anyone from accepting a marriage proposal in military uniform.
He posted, “#FreeSofiat HQ Nigerian Army is illegally holding Army Private Hannah Sofiat A, her offence was accepting a marriage proposal from her National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) lover at a Mammy Market in Ilorin. There is no law that prevents anyone from accepting a marriage proposal in military uniform but as it is typical of the pre-civilization Nigerian military she was clamped into detention at Sobi Military Cantonment in Ilorin, Kwara state.
“The Nigerian military must release Sofiat asap and apologise to her for illegal detention. #RevolutionNow.”
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