The family of a youth corps member, identified as Remi, who proposed to a female soldier, Private Sofiyat Akinlabi, at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp in Yikpata, Kwara State, has appealed to military authorities not to dismiss the romantic soldier.
The Nigerian Army had detained Akinlabi on December 14, 2021, after a viral video showed her accepting the marriage proposal from the corps member.
In the video, the lovebirds shared a hug and kiss to the delight of other corpers at the mammy market of the NYSC camp.
Reacting to the video, the Nigerian Army through its Director of Public Relations, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, said Akinlabi’s action amounted to taking advantage of her trainee, noting that she would be punished in line with extant military laws.
But speaking on condition of anonymity because of the nature of the matter, a close fami of the corps member told Saturday PUNCH that Remi and Akinlabi’s friendship started in Abeokuta, Ogun State, over three years ago before the latter joined the military.
According to the family member, they had lost contact, but was surprisingly brought together by fate at the NYSC camp in late November.
He said: “They have known each other before they got to camp. They met in Abeokuta over three years ago before she joined the Army but lost contact some time ago. Meeting at NYSC camp was like a reunion.
“They have been friends all along and Remi thought it wise to seize the opportunity of their meeting again to propose to her. He had to walk up to her as a man and not worry about her new status as a soldier because she would eventually get married.
“We appeal to the Nigerian Army to tamper justice with mercy and release her. She is a woman and she has emotions. We don’t want her to be dismissed; we want her to continue her job in the military.”
Meanwhile, two petitions on Change.org platform by activists Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians and Omoyele Sowore of Revolution Now have attracted over 10,000 signatures as of the time of filing this report.
The petitioners shared photos of male soldiers proposing to their love interests in uniform on Facebook and called for the release of Akinlabi.