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.
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