Friday, January 29, 2010

Uzoma Okere is the young Nigerian lady whose assault by military officers became a viral video that raised the ire of many. In November 2008, a military convoy belonging to Rear Adm. Arogundade overreacted when Okere's Mitsubishi Colt did not move out of their way. Arogundade's ratings beat Okere mercilessly beating with gun butts and horsewhips in the street. A brave citizen recorded the incident and put it on the internet, exposing Arogundade, and other officials who take for granted that they need to share the streets with civilians and use violence against innocents.
The incident spurred the Lagos State governor to make illegal traditional convoys which rush through the streets of Lagos which horns blaring, with little regard for anyone in their way. Okere took advantage of the free legal services provided by Lagos State government and sued Rear Admiral Arogundade and his military ratings for assault and battery. After much legal delay and wrangling, a judgment was finally issued in the Okere case and she won a judgment of N100 MN which is to be paid to her, and a fellow plaintiff, by Arogundade, the Nigerian Navy and the four ratings who carried out the attack.

When reading the 37-page judgment, Justice Opeyemi Oke referred to the acts of the navy officers as "barbaric" and stated that the men involved showed a disrespect for women and shouuld undergo psychiatric observation. Specifically,

"These ratings can only be described as barbarians in uniforms as they have shown by this incident that they have no respect for womanhood dragging a woman on the road and partially getting her naked. They have no fear of God at all ... It is highly shameful and unimaginable that such could happen in this 21st Century in a civilized society and democratic one. It should therefore be condemned in very strong language. The naval ratings have disgraced the uniform they wear as officers of the Nigerian Navy. They are therefore a disgrace to the whole nation. The rebranding gospel should therefore be commenced with this group of officers."

The judgment also requires a public apology to Ms. Okere in at least 4 print and television outlets within one month of the decision.

Immediately after the announcement, the defendant's lawyer told news cameras that it would appeal, thereby dragging the already sullied reputation of the military through the mud. The better option for the swift resolution of this matter would be to pay up, issue an apology, announce that the entire military will undergo training/courses on how to better relate to civilians and quietly allow the dust to settle. Unfortunately, this is Nigeria, the land of the Big Man, where anyone with power or influence can slap someone and get away with it and even steal millions and have 170 counts of fraud dismissed with the aid of the nation's Attorney General. Thus, this writer's hopes are slim that the Navy will take the high road and do what is right. Hopefully, no matter what happens, this case sets the precedent that no matter one's power, be it economic or military, the flagrant abuse of another human being will not be tolerated by Nigeria's courts. The case also cements the crucial role courts continue to play on the road to the entrenchment of true democracy in Nigeria. And, that is definitely a sign of progress.

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

From the Archives:
- When Nigeria's Military Attack Citizens
- Confronting A Culture of Brutality and Injustice
- Chinyere Igwe: Reflective Of A Bigger Nigerian Issue

- Nigeria's New Kingmakers
- Turning Away from Democracy
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested!!!
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime

19 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Dojaa said...

Does anybody follow court orders in Nigeria? There is an almost absolute disregard for court rulings.

Shadenonconform said...

That's really great to know. I truly hope the Navy's appeal is denied and Uzoma gets the money and justice she deserves (It really will set the precedence by demonstrating to individuals/corporations in Nigeria to desist from buying into the stupid belief that they are above the law)..

Kudos to the judge for handing out proper judgmement.

Anonymous said...

Ok..1stly, sign of progress, sure. But could it have been that the court actually brought justice just because it was recorded for the world to see and there was no way they could stay silent about it? There have been so many cases of police/navy brutality and when taken to court, it would be ruled out like it's no man's business. Anyway sha, i'll just give them the benefit of the doubt for this one.

2ndly, aren't the abusers going to prison?!

lol@psychiatrist observation. They seriously need it!

Azazel said...

I hope they pay really

NaijaBabe said...

The fact that this actually saw its way to court is an improvement in Nigeria's Law system. I hope they pay though.
Watching that video again, gosh that is totally barbaric

Anengiyefa said...

How do you enforce such a judgment against the Nigerian Navy? Can you imagine court bailiffs, suppported by mobile policemen invading the Navy Headquarters in order to enforce a court judgment.. :)

Janet Holiday said...

Hah! Serve them right! I agree! Those ratings can only be described as barbarians in uniforms! They should rot in jail for not respecting a woman and beating her helplessly in that shameful act. This only shows that Nigeria hear a fair trial. Yeah, i really hope they pay.

Anonymous said...


- L.A. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

at least the judgement demonstrates an intent to deliver justice... what happens next is still very much open open ended..

Perhaps this sets a template for getting justice - get the dastardly act recorded and post it on youtube..

Anonymous said...

...them respecting the court ruling though important is not so as " matter what happens, this case sets the precedent that no matter one's power, be it economic or military, the flagrant abuse of another human being will not be tolerated by Nigeria's courts." The journey of setting the country on the right (oops, better) course, is a long one but, with consistent forward steps (even if little), we SHALL get there.

POINT, the Nigerian Navy, the officer & ratings have their right to appeal. Let the appeal court (& subsequently the supreme court) prove themselves.

Mrs Sweetwater said...

wowww,, behaving like american cops. they are watching too much cops on television I think. don't they have any respect for women ? sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update on this story. I never expected such a huge award but good for Uzoma. I share the concerns raised about complying with the award but i think the fact this judgement was even made is very important in itself because of the message it stands for.

Unknown said...

Harry Arogundade,when are u paying? Justice Oke,please collect that money 4rm that monkey,nigerians will be happy

Anonymous said...

Nigerian officers are animals no respect for civilians.shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Those men in uniforms are nothing but bunch of barbaric animals;.

Tai -Osagbemi Boma said...

its good to see that the there is some semblance of the rule of law in this nation.

Anonymous said...

This is my 1st time to see this, pls can someone tell me if those creatures i saw are men or animals? rotwiler,ape,or lions? Pls 100m is too small, they should be kept for scientific experiment in the lab to study animal behavioural pattern.

Ikechi Uzoma said...

Thanks to videos, justice is served.

british military buttons said...

Its good to see law enforcement play its part when its needed to. Give's me a little more confidence in the government and law in Nigeria.

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