Chukwudike Ndubeze, Awka
Human Rights Liberty Access and Peace Defenders Foundation (HURIDE) in Anambra State has demanded that justice prevails on the reported case of a nursing mother who was allegedly tortured by a Naval team based in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Reports on social media have it that the nursing mother fainted after Naval personnel compelled her to climb a pedestrian bridge 30 times and confiscated her N1, 000 over purported traffic violation.
The nursing mother named, Esther Obiechina, had narrated that some Naval personnel at Uga junction, Onitsha, Anambra State, forced her to climb the pedestrian bridge at Uga Junction 30 times.
Obiechina who spoke to newsmen at a hospital, where she is recuperating when she lost her consciousness said that the Naval personnel confiscated her one thousand naira (N1000.00), being her transport fare back to her village in Ogbaru Local Government Area, and money to buy pap for her new baby.
The young lady said her problem started when she crossed the Express Road from the Bridgehead market side.
Two Naval personnel, she said, accosted her, asked her to give them N5000 (five thousand naira) to leave her but she told them that she did not have such amount.
They then asked her to drop her handset and the N1,000.00 with them and climb the pedestrian bridge 30 times.
Unfortunately, when she finished the corporal punishment ,she could not regain herself as her entire system was dis-organised and she fainted.
“In fact, I don’t know what was happening to me again. My entire body system started collapsing. In the next few minutes I passed out,” said the lady.
Even when she fainted, the Naval personnel were not bothered, rather they were mocking her, saying that after pretending she would stand up.
“I heard them when I started regaining consciousness. It was one of them who told them to stop mocking me that I was not pretending. He later returned my hand set without my one thousand naira,” she narrated.
Unfortunately, when she regained consciousness, she demanded for the one thousand naira but they told her that the officer holding her money had left.
At that juncture, she was stranded as she had no other money. She then alerted her boss over her plight, who encouraged her to manage to come to the office so that he would give her back the transport money.
But when she got to the office she fainted again and she was rushed to St Cyprain’s Hospital, along Porthacourt Road, Fegge Onitsha, where she is currently recuperating.
Efforts to get the Commanding Officer, Odekpe Naval Post, Navy Commander Sani Abdurayi, failed as calls put through to his handset was not successful.
He did not also respond to texts sent to him over the development.
In a reaction HURIDE called for immediate and total overhaul of the Iyiowa Odekpe Naval Post due to their atrocities against the citizens they are supposed to protect
The Group’s Executive Director, Dede Uzor A Uzor, said there have been series of cases of abuse of citizens’ rights by the Naval Personnel at Uga Junction.
He said in the case of lady Obiechina who is a nursing mother, it was totally wrong and out of the rule of engagement of the military to inflict such harsh corporal punishment on an ordinary civilian, let alone a woman and a nursing mother for that matter.
He called on the leadership of NIgerian Navy to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous rights abuse, to refund the one thousand naira they confiscated from lady Obiechina, as well as make them face severe disciplinary measure.
“There are glaring incidents of official corruption, extortion, intimidation and harsh human rights abuses by the Naval officers. Immediately it’s 6.30pm, they would mount illegal roadblocks, closing down the trunk A Onitsha/Asaba express highway causing excruciating pains to the motorists, extorting money with impunity, what have Naval officers got to do with traffic control?
“The Commander, Iyiowa Odekpe Naval Post should be removed and sent on refresher courses to enable him be in tune with democratic ideals,” Dede Uzor advised.