A nursing mother, Esther Obiechina, has narrated how some Naval personnel at Uga junction, in 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 after she lost her consciousness, said that the Naval personnel also confiscated her one thousand naira (N1000.00), being her transport fare back to her village in Ogbaru Local Government.
She added that the money was for her to buy pap for her baby.
According to the lady, her problem started when she crossed the Express Road from the Bridgehead market side.
She stated that two Naval personnel accosted her, and asked her to give them five thousand naira (N5,000.00) to leave her; she told them that she did not have such an amount.
Obiechina said: “They then asked her to drop her mobile phone and the N1,000.00 with them and climb the pedestrian bridge 30 times on Sunday 1st May 2022.”
She noted that when she completed her corporal punishment, she could not regain herself as her entire system was disorganized, hence she fainted.
“In fact, I don’t know what was happening to me again. My entire system started collapsing. In the next few minutes, I passed out,” she said.
She stated that even when she fainted, the naval personnel were not bothered, rather they mocked 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 and that I was not pretending. He later returned my handset without my one thousand naira,” she narrated.
She explained that when she asked them for the N1,000 after regaining consciousness, the naval personnel told her that one of the officers who was in possession of her money, had left.
The young woman said she was stranded as she has no other money and she alerted her boss over her plight, who encouraged her to manage to come to the office so that he would give her back transport money.
But when she got to the office she fainted again and she was rushed to St Cyprain Hospital, along Port Harcourt Road, Fegge, Onitsha where she is currently recuperating.
Efforts to get the Commanding Officer, Odekpe Naval Post, Navy Commander Sani Abdurayi, failed as his mobile phone could not be reached.
He did not also respond to texts sent to him over the incident.
However, Human Rights Liberty Access and Peace Defenders Foundation (HURIDE) in a reaction called for immediate and total overhaul of the Iyiowa Odekpe Naval Post due to their atrocities against the citizens they supposed to protect
HURIDE Executive Director, Dede Uzor A Uzor, said there have been a 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 the Nigerian Navy to fish out the perpetrators of the abuse of the heinous rights to refund the one thousand naira they confiscated from lady Obiechina as well as make them face severe disciplinary measures.
There are glaring incidences of official corruption, extortion, intimidation and harsh human rights abuses by the Naval officers, immediately its 6.30 pm, they would mount illegal roadblocks closing down the trunk ‘A’ Onitsha/Asaba express high ways causing excruciating pains to the motorists, extorting money with impunity, what has Naval officers get to do with traffic control?
“The Commander, Iyiowa Odekpe Naval officer should be removed to be sent to refresher courses to enable him be in tune with democratic ideals,” Dede Uzor advised.