The Nigerian Army on Sunday said 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, will be punished for violating military rules and regulations.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, told The PUNCH that the female officer violated military laws by getting involved in a public display of amorous relationship with a paramilitary trainee – a corps member.
SaharaReporters had identified the female soldier as Private Hannah Sofiat A. She was detained 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.
SaharaReporters had reported that the female soldier was ordered to be detained by Captain M. M. Abdulahi, Kwara State NYSC Camp Commandant at a military detention facility in Ilorin pending further investigations.
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.”
In one of the trending video clips, some corps members were seen discussing a venue believed to be the parade ground of the orientation camp.
The discussion was still on when the yet-to-be-identified corps member, who is seen holding a ring, went down on one knee and popped the question to the soldier with the lady accepting the proposal.
The corps member then went on to put the ring on the finger of the visibly excited Sofiat amid cheers from others at the scene.
She could also be seen relishing the moment as she kissed the ring at intervals with smiles etched on her face. The lovebirds later shared a warm embrace.
In another clip, the corps member was seen wearing Sofiat’s military cap as she stood directly behind him.
However, the Army spokesman said the female soldier violated the Nigerian Army’s rules and regulations guiding the codes of conduct of military personnel when deployed for duty.
Nwachukwu said the female soldier’s action amounted to taking advantage of her trainee, noting that the public would have been outraged and accused the Army of coercion had a male soldier proposed to a female corps member during NYSC parade.
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.”