WHEN NIGERIA'S MILITARY ATTACK CITIZENS

Thursday, November 6, 2008

As a Nigerian who grew up in Lagos, I have seen everything. Consequently, the video below does not shock me. What shocked me is that people were brave enough to approach the officers, all be it from a safe distance, and that an individual was brave enough to film and share this atrocity with the world. It is unfortunately common for men in uniform to use their military power and authority to force fear upon the populace and abuse the rights of citizens via brute force. This opinion of mine is in no way an attempt to condemn the entire armed forces, after all Nigeria's soldiers have consistently sacrificed their lives, with far too little credit, for peace initiatives all over the African continent from Liberia to Darfur.
http://www.bellanaija.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/uzoma2.jpg
However, no accomplishments will overcome the reality of the footage below - average Nigerian citizens are at the mercy of military officers. In the clip, you will see the public violent assault of a young lady, Uzoma Okere, on the streets of my hometown, Victoria Island, Lagos. According to Nigeria's Punch Newspaper,
Six armed naval ratings attached to a Rear Admiral identified as Harry Arogundade, went wild on Monday on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, beating and stripping the lady naked.
According to eyewitnesses, the naval ratings hit the lady with their gun butts and beat her with horsewhips.
She was accused of not quickly giving way for the naval officer‘s convoy on her way home in her Mitsubishi Colt car.
By the time the rage ended, Okere, who was forcibly handcuffed and dragged into a private residence on the street in a humiliating assault, was left with a battered face, blood-shot eyes and bruises all over her body.
She was [later] admitted at Kamorass Hospital on Victoria Island.
This treatment of a human being is absolutely unconscionable. Okere is someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend and above all a human being who should not have ever been treated like an animal. In fact, many animals around the world get better treatment. Her assault at the butts and horsewhips of those military officers, in addition to the recent SSS detention of Jonathan Elendu, Emeka Asiwe (whom we are yet to hear from) and countless faceless Nigerians who have lost their freedom and even lives at the hands of Nigeria's military officers simply reinforces that democracy and its ideals continue to struggle in Nigeria. The Nigerian people and the Nigerian government must realize that freedom is the birthright of every human being, even Nigerians. As such, we must all work together to protect the rights and freedoms of the nation's citizens.

In this age of modern technology, enlightened ideas, and even the achievement of the previously impossible - the election of a Black man with a funny name as President of the United States, the rights and freedoms of the people must be paramount. It will be interesting to see what, if any, will be the response from President Yar'Adua to, yet again, another gaffe on the part of security services. Nigeria's Armed Forces, charged with defending the union of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, must not resort to attacking the citizens they serve, like Uzoma Okere, simply because her Mitsubishi Colt didn't move quickly enough for their liking.

Hattip to reader, Webround, for sharing this clip with me.

A concerned citizen created a Facebook page to start a petition for justice for the victim of this assault. Visit it here.


UPDATE: Per Reader Archiwiz's request, I am including the contact information for the head of Nigeria's Ministry of Womens Affairs, Saudatu Usman Bungudu. She can be reached
Via email: sbungudu@nigeria.gov.ng, simuhammad@fmwa.gov.ng, selmohammed@nigeria.gov.ng
Via telephone: +234-095237115, 09-523-7279, 09-523-9883, 09-523-7278
Via fax: +234-095233644, 095237112, 095237113

You can find the Minister's CV here.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Turning Away from Democracy
- "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- NIGERIAN BLOGGER, JONATHAN ELENDU, IS FAR FROM 'FREE' & OCTOBER 31ST
- DISTURBING NEWS ON JONATHAN ELENDU - TORTURE? HUNGER STRIKE?
- Blogger, Jonathan Elendu, Still In Custody
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested!!!
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
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gbengasile said...

I could hardly imagine the level of barbarism and brutality that is allowed to happen in Nigeria all because one guy's in uniform and the other's not. How much more on a woman? The news shocked me and I'm desperately hoping the whole thing wont be swept under the rug like many other similar unfortunate events that have been ignored in the recent past.

archiwiz said...

Oh no!!!! We have to do something about this. You go so far as to applaud any armed forces personnel. I call for the castration of all of them, right now! In 2008? Are you kidding me?This hits very close to home because I was almost a victim of armed forces brutality twice. Where's a bloody petition that someone can sign? Nigeria has had enough of this kind of rubbish in our time. Those officers deserve to be shot, and the Minister for Women neds to make a statement.

archiwiz said...

Found them! See some info on the Ministry of Women affairs and social development here: http://www.nigeria.gov.ng/NR/exeres/8211764C-80CE-4235-887D-79FB5135122A.htm. Please publish their email addresses and phone numbers so othre people can call and email them about this distressing matter.

NIGERIA POLITRICKS said...

this woman does not even have a second degree; yet she is a women affairs minister. no wonder our govt. keeps going backward...change is coming!

tara douglas said...

This is crazy
i went to school with this chic
and i feel enough loyalty to blog about this.
those guys are going down
mark my words
The acts were disgraceful
and abominable
they are a disgrace to members
of the armed forces
i have never witnessed them beating
a woman
its a double tragedy on the name
of the Nigerian Navy

Femi B said...

First of all @ NAIJAPOLITRICKS. When did it become a criteria to have a second degree to be a minister?. If she is not qualified...she is not qualified but definitely because she doesn't have a second degree

Anyway this is so outrageous...men ,y heart was racing while watching. I hope the girl has a great lawyer to sue the whole of the Nigerian Police and make a scape goat of them. SND, if we are contacting the woman, can we forward your post to her?

webround said...

The director of Naval Information explained away the incident by saying [paraphrasing here] that the lady provoked the Naval ratings. According to him, "maybe it's because she's from a military background (her dad is a colonel) that made her to grip the horse whip and that angered the Naval ratings"

This is the explanation given by the Director of Naval Information! And he's supposed to be a senior officer! The guy should also be disciplined together the Naval ratings and the Rear Admiral

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ gbenga: Unfortunately, it more likely than not will be swept under the rug, unless you and others do something about it. I just hope that Uzoma recovers from this horrific ordeal.

@ archiwiz: Given that Emeka Asiwe is yet to be heard from after 10 days in SSS detention, I highly doubt that any of those officers will be castrated or shot as you suggest. The best i could hope for is their dismissal from the Navy. Maybe if people put some pressure on the government and head sof the armed forces, something good will come out of this.

@ nigeria politricks: So good to see you again! Honestly, not having a second degree doesn't make a difference, you know. What is more important is that she use her position to put forth concrete programs that will be to the benefit of women. However, one thing I have learned is that you can have the best intentions, but if the foundation is not available, all your best plans will fall to side in Nigeria.

The question becomes, will Bugundu be able to have a positive impact on the majority of Nigeria's women, assuming that she is try to do so? If she is trying to change the lot of women, and hopes to have a positive impact, this is precisely the issue she can use to spotlight the violence against Nigerians, in this case a woman.

So, it comes back to the underlying framework - is it possible for a Womens Affairs Minister that wants to do well to actually do well in Nigeria? And, will this minister do well for uzoma?

Only God can answer that question.

Anyway, good to see you put a post up. Its been different not having you around blogville.

@ Tara Douglas: So, you actually know Uzoma? Well, this must be even harder for you to watch.

Please do a post about the issue. I always encourage fellow bloggers to talk about the issues that they read about, whatever they may be. Sometimes, even a wordless post that simply states a victim's name can make a world of difference. Those of us that use this medium, blogging, are lucky we can talk about issues.

Nice to see you here, please, don't be a stranger.


@ Femi B: You must to don kolo! lol! So she can send Navy abi na SSS to come find me, eh?

On a serious note, fine. Send her the Punch newspaper article, as well, although it is embedded in the post. Hopefully, she will be able to get those Naval officers fired at the very least. I think if she reads half the comments that have been left on the CNN IReport page, she would be mortified. Well, or not, I don't know the lady and shouldn't dare suggest what she thinks.

bumight said...

sadly i doubt that anyone is getting castrated, shot at or even dismissed from the army. I do however believe that something concrete should be done to dissuade further acts like this. Thank God for the person who had the sense to film this!

even if she had provoked them by holding their whips its still not a tangible excuse to beat her up like that!. I'm tired of all these uniformed men flexing their military muscle, even LASTMA is trying not to be left out, jeez!

Doja said...

archiwiz said...
Found them! See some info on the Ministry of Women affairs and social development here: http://www.nigeria.gov.ng/NR/exeres/8211764C-80CE-4235-887D-79FB5135122A.htm. Please publish their email addresses and phone numbers so other people can call and email them about this distressing matter.

Are you serious? The minister's guards probably do the same everyday!

Akin said...

Hello,

I am in no way surprised by this barbarity, we think it is happening in Nigeria and really it no better than the law of the jungle, the domain of the Slave Coast.

The people in power in Nigeria just seem to excel at plumbing the depths of savagery and ignominy never before accessed by rabid and dirty vector-bearing animals.

I am beside myself with apoplectic rage, the people involved must be brought to book without fail along with an unreserved apology and a compensation that attempts to restore the status and dignity of the young lady.

Regards,

Akin

Iyaeto said...

My heart sunk when I saw this video. Can you see the size of those buffoons! How on earth? Who the hell is Arogundade Rear Admiral my foot. Has he got a wife,mother or daughter? the Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore David Naibada, had th e guts to open his big mouth to utter such a stupid statement that she "provoked" one of the errand boys!! These people must be brought to book. Arogundade mustn't go scot free. Where was he going that was so urgent? Guest house? so it was no longer urgent when they had to stop and humiliate the poor girl. He could have called them to order haba! Governor Fashola is a lawyer I believe he knows the implication of what has happened and the incident occurred in his area of jurisdiction. But Kudos to the girl. Has the military started ruling again? The same thing happened . Well thesame thing happeneed to my brother not far from that area in 2003 he had just moved to naija from the UK. He was going to pick up his kids from school thank God he over poweredthe mad dogs. They managed to rip his lace buba though but the buffons sped off!!! imagine if he is tiny and helpless.

Beauty said...

I second all of @Akin's words including The people in power in Nigeria just seem to excel at plumbing the depths of savagery and ignominy never before accessed by rabid and dirty vector-bearing animals but why should this savagery concern the Hon Min for Women? The crime was carried out by the military and their head should be our focus. Shouldn't the police investigate this and pass it on to the public prosecution office. Or am I dreaming?

Also, the Women minister's unsophisticated CV has added another facet to my understanding of cabinet appointment. Is the state separate from religion since it featured HOBBIES: READING THE HOLY QURAN. Perhaps that is another blog S?

nneoma said...

thanks for posting the video.it been all over the print media and blogosphere. while the events happening to Uzoma are indeed barbaric and tragic, as everyone has stated, what i find even more frightful is the apparent silence on the part of the Yar'adua's administration. Well, I guess with the Mugabe-esque detention of Asiwe and Elendu on their part, this is hardly surprising. It seems that the Yar'adua administration is growing more and more similar to that of his predecessors, despite initial claims of his calm, peace-loving demeanor...
I also visited the facebook group. I applaud their efforts...i really think the idea of Nigerian bloggers and others oragnising toward this issue is quite amazing.

guerreiranigeriana said...

...completely insane...what is it about allowing people to dress up in fatigues or uniforms and giving them weapons that makes them believe that they can treat other humans any old way?...absolutely appalling but not very different from the way us soldiers treated detainees in abu ghraib (excuse the spelling) and god knows where else...or the countless mixed children in vietnam and around the world where the military have been...on the continent and all over the world, those who are charged with protecting the vulnerable often attack and take advantage of the vulnerable...i don't think its a natural thing and i'm more concerned with the occurrence in general...

...hat tip to the work being done around advocacy...

princekay123 said...

It is disheartening that the military people who are supposed to protect civilians are now portraying themselves as tin gods.

Who the hell is Arogundade? I hope Umoru and his fake political associates who call themselve leaders are watching this. This is injustice at the highest order!

I had a similar experience two and a half years ago at Ibadan. I was driving along Challenge when I sighted the convoy of Adedibu approaching. Like a citizen with equal right, I refused to give way while in the traffic gridlock at the round-about. To my greatest surprise, one of the thugs in one of the Hiace buses jumped down and pointed the gun at me and ordered me to come down. I quickly prostrated and shouted "Omo Adedibu ni mi o! (I am Adedibu's relative). That was how the thug 'discharged' me though not after giving me a taste of their horse whip.

N.I.M.M.O said...

I don't even know where to start with this. In the first place, what is wrong is wrong. It cannot and should not be excused.

But then, so also is how we relate to what is wrong.

On that fateful day, I was just around the corner on Etim Inyang Crescent though I got to the scene late. But from what I saw and discussions with people who saw everything, it was not a case of NIGERIA'S MILITARY ATTACKING CITIZENS. Please.

I saw some of those Naval Ratings (not officers) who perpetrated the dastardly act and they were rather young boys - 20 years max. You would wonder if their mothers taught them to beat up girls in traffic. Or was it the Navy?

What can Bugundu do about this? Zilch.

What can Fashola do about this? Nothing.

Don't even ask, UMYAwn will do nothing. Even if you put it under his nose.

The right place to petition is the Naval Command and if the petition is strong enough, the Navy has its way of sanctioning its officers and men. Forget whatever the Dir. of Naval Info said.

OK. Maybe the Senate can summon the Chief of Naval Staff to explain what steps he has taken to redress this act. Though I doubt if the jokers we have there will do that. They are probably still busy passing the Anti-Nudity Bill.

Personally, I like The Tara Douglas Solution to this problem: Find Them. Take Them Down.

As anybody who went to military school will tell you, it works. Every time.

Anonymous said...

For some reasons, U guys have failed to understand that unless this issue can be made to embarass and hurt the Federal Govt on the international scene nothing will be done nd it will be SWEPT under the carpet. U guys are dedicated bloggers, flood the media ith it. Not just the local media but the international media as well. bbc, aljazeera, cnn, sky, let it be fress everytime its read or played. Kep posting the clip. Embarass the govt of Yaradua into taking action. God Bless the free people of Nigeria. My heart goes out to the poor lady, if she need to hire an assassin I can give her references.

stuck in my throat o said...

I have lost faith in Nigeria.
These arrests, these harrassments..too tiring..

Yewande Atanda said...

Too bad Arogundade is involved. He's a very nice person. I know him. However, justice must be done.

Anonymous said...

Being that her father is who he is explains the fact that she was defiant in the video. I wondered about that and applauded her guts. Now I'm not too sure about that. While I don't condone the violence against her, I believe one needs to pick his/her battles wisely. Still playing devil's advocate, I haven't a doubt she would have been a little more humble if her father wasn't a military veteran. There's a time and place for everything, being arrongantly defiant with ignorance is just not the time.

My uncle is in a high position in our state in Nigeria, had I been in that situation in said state, I would have given in, taken down names, used my relationship with my Uncle to get even later and avoided the upfront embarrassment all together.

ibiluv said...

i still am mad

if it were up to me

he would be hanged..........

cos if he reaally had no hand in it...........he could have stopped his boys from assaulting her......i dont care if she is headstrong as my colleague states

or if she held onto his uniform
or if she beat them back

if she did all that.....thumbs up to her

why take a beating like a dog...fight back..so if she got in a few knocks of her own...good for her.....

as for Harry.....death i say..to his wife...finally a voice...he must be thrashing her daily...no??????

Mystique said...

@ anonymous. Yes I agree that's what I would have done to. However, why do you have to think about getting names? That is the problem with our country. This is so sad. I don't care what she did. There are other ways of seeking justice without beating her.

Even if I refuse to leave the road for the president of the united states, No one dares touch me. They might arrest me, which I will deserve. The fact that I can feel confident saying this and I don't feel confident saying that about a mere random cop I see on the streets of lagos. Is SAD!!!

Anonymous said...

As a fellow woman, I can hardly believe the acts of these animals in uniform. I shudder to imagine what they would have done to other people in the past. God will punish them. They will surely reap the rewards of this act. Torture, abuse and sorrow will be their lot forever. Amen.

Dami said...

saudatu is no more the minister for women affairs, she's been removed along with 20 others.. thank goodness-she was useless

Standtall said...

A lot of organisations are taking up her case. We need to start prosecuting this people. We cant let them continue like this

Standtall said...

We must challenge them!

Anonymous said...

What happened is really unfortunate and condemnable.However, it is pertinent to point out that from the video, Harry's car isnt visible, so its possible and even likely that he didnt order, supervise or partake in the dastardly act as media reports might suggest. We must be objective in our criticism because people who know the man seem to attest for his character. We shouldnt crucify him or generalsie issues out of sentiment. The law will surely take its course, but he is also entitled to his own say.

Anonymous said...

I have seen this happen over n over again in Nigeria and it has become a culture that violence and abuse of human right is accepted and a normal way of life. What I felt while watching this video was pain but what Nigeria needs is A CHANGE! If this lady was from a lower class, i know things will carry on as normal but I thank God because this will create an awareness that acts like this are animalistic and uncivilised and has to STOP!
A lady is abused because a group of animals want the road to themselves? Nigeria!!! Wakeup!!!! It is time for a CHANGE! Democracy does not mean civilisation and Nigeria needs to become a more civilised country.
Ereku.

komplete said...

It is really pathetic to watch this clip on the net, the way our military personnel behave is questionable, it is really degrading, the rear admiral and men attached to him should be brought to book, this case should not be swept under the carpet.

komplete said...

Even yesterday(11/11/2008)while returning home from work, some men of the armed forces mounted road block on airport road and no one was passing either in vehicle or walking and when asked what actually happened we were realiably informed that the president of GERMANY will be taking that route.
This is madness at the highest level! because an individual wants to make use of federal road means that thousands of nigeria workforce returning home after a hard day's work should be held hostage until the man passes even when it was obvious that he is still at the embassy, after waiting for some hours, we had to come down from our vehicle and look for a way out of the hostage.
This madness cannot happen in GERMANY where the man came from.
Freedom is the right of everyone on planet earth and we should not be deprived of it.

coli said...

komplete, you havent seen anything yet! Several years ago, they did the CHOGM or something like that when commonwaelth heads of government were hosted in Abuja. Most residents of the city living near the venues of the meetings were kept in apparent confinement till the end of the meeting!

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