By Ifeanyi Okolie
When, on November 10, 2008, Uzoma Okere was brutalized by some Naval ratings in the convoy of a Rear Admiral, for obstructing their way, Nigerians rose in total condemnation of the raw show of power.
The case later came up in the court of law where costs were awarded to the brutalized lady and many heaved a sigh of relief, believing that it will serve as a deterrent to other power- hungry uniformed men in Nigeria.Â But the reverse seems to be the case going by revelations from the Insurance Manager of Nigerian Bottling Company Plc, Mr. Remi Amos Anowai.
The 41-year-old father of three who narrated his ugly experience in the hands of a serving army Colonel in a traffic at Liverpool Road, Apapa, Lagos said he had sent a strongly worded petition to the Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army seeking for his urgent intervention to the injustice meted to him.
According to him, â€œOn Thursday the 15th day of April 2010 at about 8.45 pm, I was driving along Liverpool Road in my Honda Accord car with registration number AR 845 BWR.Â Â When I got to Point Road junction, there was traffic gridlock and vehicles were moving slowly.
I was driving behind a trailer carrying a container when a Peugeot Saloon car with registration number AG 417 SHD, swerved in my direction and came very close to my car.Â Â When the trailer in front moved on , the driver of theÂ Peugeot, while trying to overtake my car,Â brushed his car against mine and it resulted in a minor damage on the bumper of the car.
â€œThe driver of the Peugeot car came out through the passengerâ€™s side of his car and, without saying a word to me, started hitting my front windscreen with his fist.Â Â I was still seated in my car with the glasses wound up and the car was still running.Â Â Some Policemen who were at a check point came over to us and asked me to move my car out of the road to avoid traffic.
At this point, the driver of the Peugeot car ran across the road, picked up a stone and identified himself as Colonel N.J. Anene of the Nigerian Army Corp of Supply and Transport Headquarters, Bonny Camp, Lagos.Â Â He smashed my front windscreen with the stone. After that,Â he attempted hitting me with the big stone heÂ was carryingÂ and I dodged it.Â He then smashed the back windscreen and that was when I realized that I was in trouble.Â I quickly called my wife and she instantly called some of my relatives.
â€œOne of my cousins,Â an army officer called me after he was called by my wife and I narrated what happened to him.Â He then asked to speak with the Army Colonel but I could notÂ give the phone to him because he was chasing meÂ round, ordering me to kneel down.Â I gave the phone to one of the policeman who handed it over to him.
While he was talking to my cousin, I overhead him saying that I impersonated being an army officerÂ and I shouted at the top of my voice that I did not impersonate and he immediately smashed my phone on the ground. HeÂ became so angry and ordered a soldier that was passingÂ by to enter into my car and take me to the SIB unit of the armyÂ nearby for interrogation.
The policemen who were on ground pleadedÂ with him not to go that far because it was a mere trafficÂ and civil case that could be handled by the police.Â He reluctantly listened to them and we both went to Apapa police station.Â When we got there, the station provost asked us to return the next day to make our statement and
we both agreed.
â€œSurprisingly the next day, I went to the station with my wife but the Army Officer did not show upÂ and I waited till 6.pm, still he did not come.Â Â The Investigating Police Officer (IPO) then asked us to return the next day.Â When he eventually showed up, he boasted inÂ front of both my lawyer, my wife and theÂ Divisional Traffic Officer (DTO) that he would not commit a dime in the repair of my car and if I am not okay with that, I should got to court.
The police begged that he should, at least, show some sympathyÂ and assist with the repair of my car but he said bluntly to their faces that he can afford over ten of my vehicle in a day but he was not ready to pay me for any repair and if I am not okay with that, I should go to court.
â€œMy anger is that this army officer brazenly maltreated me as if I am not a human being.Â Â He displayed naked madness and authority over and aboveÂ other human beings.Â We know that the military hierarchy is doted with responsible men and women of dignity.
Why such a highly placed officer should resort to brute force and barbarism over mere traffic offence in which he was the offender is shocking.Â I have no doubt that if he had a gun, he would have killed me on the spot.Â I still believe that Military authorities will hear my cries of agony and dehumanization and address this issue with the utmost urgency it richly deserves in order to avoid a repeat occur-renceâ€, he stated.