The days of wanton trampling on civilian rights by men in uniform seems to be over, as Afeez Oluomo, a tricycle operator victim of an alleged military brutalisation is asking for the law to take its course. Omolola Afolabi reports.
A YAM dealer and tricycle operator at Mile 12 Market in Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos, Afeez Oluomo, 42, is calling on the police and Lagos State government to help serve justice over an alleged brutalisation and near-death experience with a captain of the Nigerian Army.
Oluomo claims that the army officer, Captain Olurin Olofin, fired shots at him and bathed him with hot water during a disagreement at Sound Bage Hotel, Kosofe, Mile 12, Lagos.
Narrating his ordeal on his hospital bed, Oluomo told our reporter, “While my friends (Dotun and Coded) and I were drinking at Sound Bage Hotel, two of the bottles got broken. The hotel manager insisted that I paid for the drinks and the broken bottles. Meanwhile, this is a hotel I have been patronising for the past five years. The situation degenerated to a loud argument, as I insisted I would pay later. The captain that brutalised me was lodging in the hotel. He is the captain of the soldiers deployed to Iso-ata at Mile 12.
“After firing shots at me, which I narrowly escaped, he called about six of his men to torture me and my friends. He ordered me to go under the Corolla SUV and my friends under the second car. He tied my hands behind me and asked the hotel manager’s wife to bring boiling water from the kettle. He asked the hotel manager if I was the chairman of the tricycle operators; when he confirmed this, he said: “You dey chop alone, God go punish you.” He then poured the hot water on my entire body. It was after this that I ran to meet my colleagues who took us to the police station to make a report. The officers on duty gave us a police report, which we took to the hospital.”
Oluomo said the captain and the hotel manager later sent a message to him through some of his men, requesting that the matter be “settled” out of station.
Oluomo, as at press time, had left the hospital, though with an outstanding bill of N21,000, which he claimed had not been paid by the captain and the hotel manager.
The Nation also visited Sound Bage Hotel, where the manager, Ifeanyi Odisu, claimed that Oluomo’s stubbornness contributed largely to his fate.Afeez oluomo
According to Odisu, “The gentleman wasn’t cooperating, reason the soldiers disciplined him. It was the simple instructions he refused to obey that led to all these. It wasn’t a calculated attempt to belittle or molest him.”
He added: “The guy, Oluomo broke two bottles, for which I told him to pay. He however insisted on paying later. But instead of paying, he sent two of his boys, whom I’d never met before, to beat me up. Although they didn’t beat me up, the noise they made alerted the soldiers from their room, who later intervened.”
On why the soldiers poured hot water on him, Odisu said, “To be frank with you, nobody poured hot water on him. I’m aware he is in the hospital but I don’t know how he got there. The soldier came down with his friends; it was he who didn’t obey. They all went out and I don’t know what happened afterwards.”
Spokesperson of the Nigerian Police in Lagos, SP Muyiwa Adejobi, while confirming the incident said, “The manager of the hotel was arrested but later released on bail. The issue of the captain firing shots will be properly investigated. The captain has been invited for interrogation. On that day, he was a lodger in the hotel and the victim came in the company of suspected cultists. The manager denied any knowledge of the hot water battering, but we are expecting the medical report. We are going to make sure this case is properly investigated. And as for the issue of hot water batter, we learnt this is due to him running under the exhaust pipe of a vehicle. The commissioner has directed us to do proper investigation and we would transfer the case to a specialised agency properly equipped to handle the matter.” He assured.
The result of the investigation and medical reports were however not made available by the Police as at the time of filing this report.
Army Spokesperson in Lagos , Major Kolawole Bello of the Nigerian Army 9 Brigade, while responding to enquiries from The Nation, said he had interrogated the accused captain: “The captain denied any knowledge of the incident.”
He added that “it was a case of suspected cultists.”