In late March, we reported the case of Dr Owen Edo-Ojo, who was brutalised by a naval officer for an inexplicable ‘offence’ and how he was hospitalised, having been shot twice.
In response, the Nigerian Navy said that it apprehended the naval rating allegedly involved.
The Director of Naval Information, Adedotun Vaughan, said in a statement that the alleged incident occurred last Saturday at Gbamgbala St., Elegushi, in Lekki, Lagos.
“The rating in question has been apprehended and detained while the due investigation is ongoing to unravel the circumstances that led to the alleged shooting and stabbing of the doctor,” he said.
“Investigation is ongoing and if the rating is found culpable, he will be appropriately punished in line with extant provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
“The Nigerian Navy is not unmindful of the place of discipline, professionalism and respect of the civil populace by naval personnel in the discharge of their duties,” Vaughan said.
Dr Owen had said then: “He stabbed me in my hand, neck, and arm. After that, I ran to Fred, my friend’s house. He suggested that we go to the police station, but the policemen said it was too late. They said they could not mobilise a car at that moment.”
However, after paying a bribe of 30,000 naira to the police officers, they agreed to follow them to the scene. This was around 7:30 pm.
Owen said one of the police officers knocked on the gate on getting to where the naval officer stabbed him. He stated that a man in military camouflage came out and shot at the gate.
“At this time, I was already bleeding heavily. The man who shot me was the one who harassed me in the afternoon. I managed to crawl to a private hospital to take care of myself. My family came to pick me up and I was taken to the place where I work for treatment,” he narrated.
Dr Owen’s mother had also appeared in a video pleading with Nigerians to help her escalate the case, so justice is served.
Abuse of power has become cultural in Nigeria. You can no longer argue that only people in political offices use the power the office has to their advantage, as uniformed men have gone on with this, reason brutality has thrived more than reforms.
The police, the military and paramilitary arms (including Customs, Immigration officers, Correctional Officers at the prison), LASTMA officials in Lagos, men and officers who maintain traffic and environmental laws, anti-corruption agencies, food and drug enforcement officials and many other security operatives, all make up the class of public workers who wear uniforms. Some of these officers who bear arms abuse it, thinking they have the right to the life of the people they are supposed to protect.
In times past, there had been cases of power-drunk personnel who shot at innocent civilians extra-judicially. This will continue if no system is put in place to act as checks and balances.
The problem lies with empty promises instead of actual reforms.
Dr Owen says in his Instagram post:
“Thank you everyone for your support during this challenging period in my life, I’m thankful that I get to spend Easter with my family. I’ve been off the grid focusing on my health and recovery; I’ve found strength knowing you were all rallying on my behalf. ❤️🩹
“God has given me a new lease on life and I’m grateful to Him. Please let’s stand together and demand a better society for ourselves and our children.”
We can start the demand from asking people who have the ‘power’ to stop abusing their power, and demand checks and balances in that case.