The news of the re-absorption of Sergeant Barnabas Jabila Mshiela, also known as Sergeant Rogers, into the military, constitutes a shock to those who followed his ricocheting trial that commenced five years ago. Sergeant Rogers confessed in open court that he headed several operations of a hit squad during the regime of late General Sani Abacha.
From the trial, Nigerians heard how Rogers and his squad set on notable Nigerians like Pa Alfred Rewane and Kudirat Abiola. His group, he told the court, was also responsible for burning the homes of Lt.-Gen. Alani Akinrinade and Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, among others, and their owners forced into exile.
Rogers gave the court details of his participation in the shooting of newspaper publisher, Alex Ibru, a former Minister of Internal Affairs under Gen. Abacha, who survived the attack.What could be the motive behind the decision to return a self-confessed killer to the country’s military service, especially when the trial of those he named as accomplices is still on? Was this a court decision? It is preposterous for Rogers to be drawing his pay from the taxes of the same Nigerians he confessed to haunting, killing their relations and destroying their property. What is going on in this country?Nigerians are still traumatised by the bestiality and savagery of the group that wreaked mayhem on them under the guise of obeying military orders.While we are concerned that efforts should be made towards breeding a truly professional army, the government is uninterested in ridding the military of known elements who are not ashamed of their past contributions in stalling democratic rule. Is there any reason that can justify the return of Rogers to the army? If Rogers could be re-called by the military, what stops others in the same train from regaining their duty posts in the army and police? Why should the trial of his alleged accomplices continue when the main hitman, who confessed to the crime, is free and back to military service?Rogers and his hit squad represented a group that promoted the country’s brutal, ugly past. Their activities caused pains that have not healed. These wounds cannot heal with his fast-forwarded return to the military.The Federal Government owes Nigerians an explanation for the new parameters of justice that would return a self-confessed killer to a military that we are supposed to be reforming. The silence government is wont to serve Nigerians, will not be adequate in this instance.