There was palpable tension in Aba, a commercial city of Abia State, after soldiers arrested, flogged and shaved off the hair of young men wearing dreadlocks and those with bushy and tinted hair.
The soldiers, who were all wearing masks, reportedly took the young men to an unknown destination.
An eyewitness, who spoke to The Punch in confidence, said “Their targets were young men, who wore dreadlocks and those who tinted their hair.
“The masked soldiers flogged many of their victims and used scissors to cut off the hair and then threw the victims into their vehicles and zoomed off.
“It was a very sorry sight. We were all afraid to get close.
“The soldiers came unannounced and started arresting, flogging, maltreating and cutting the hair of any young person sporting dreadlocks as well as long and tinted hair.
“We have never seen such wickedness before and nobody has ever told us that wearing of dreadlocks is an offence.
“All of a sudden, the soldiers came to the Ehi Road and did all manners of evil to people sporting dreadlocks before my very eyes.”
Narrating her experience at the Afor-Une Market in the Umungasi area of the town, another resident, Mrs Mba, said, “I went to the market to buy something and suddenly, I saw people standing afar but moving closer, I saw some young men sitting on the floor and being shaved by soldiers.
“Honestly, the people around were afraid to ask any question, because no one knew actually what crime the victims had committed.
“After shaving the boys, the soldiers eventually bundled them into their vehicle, packed the hair and drove off.”
Confirming the incident, the acting Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 14 Brigade, Ohafia, Major Aliu Kadiri, said the Nigerian Army headquarters were aware of the matter.
“We are on the issue of the haircut. Our headquarters have called us on it; we are handling the matter.”