By Emma Amaize
ASABA—A former Commissioner for Special Duties in Delta State, Mr. Joel Bisina, has petitioned the Nigerian Army over “cruel treatment meted out to me on February 24 by soldiers of the 19th Battalion, Koko, Warri North Local Government Area.”
Bisina, an Executive Director at Lite Africa, a non-governmental organisation, in a petition addressed to the Brigade Commander, 4th Brigade, Benin City, Edo State, said that he was assaulted at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, office in Koko by soldiers on the orders of their Acting Commander.
According to him, “I visited on February 24, to ascertain the situation of the election carried out on February 23, which was disrupted by soldiers of the Nigerian Army.”
He explained that at INEC office, he encountered the Chairman of Warri North LGA, Mr. Aduge Okorodudu, who asked him his experience in his ward and he narrated how soldiers not only delayed them for hours from proceeding to their polling unit on February 23, but threatened fury on them when he challenged their action after two hours.
The community leader and national chair of Ogbonbiri, Ward 9, said the Warri North chair also told him of his sour experience and about 10 minutes later, Okorodudu invited him to where he (Okorodudu) was standing with some INEC officials and security heads.
He said it was while he was going to meet the chair that the Acting Commander, 19th Battalion, Koko, who accused him of lying, ordered soldiers to beat him up and four soldiers under his instruction “dehumanised me.”
“One of them slapped me on the face, the other kicked me on the leg, another hit me on the head and back and the last one dragged me by my belt into the military van.
“After about two minutes, the officers were instructed to bring me down from the van before the Commander asked them to bring me out,” the activist said.
He said that the officer asked him to respond to the false accusation he made against the army, and he, in turn, demanded why they treated him like a common criminal.
The ex-commissioner added, “One of the soldiers standing by screamed, ‘you are standing before an officer and you are still talking.’ Without provocation, a soldier struck me twice with the butt of his gun, inflicting bruises on me, leaving me bleeding.
“Although, I suffered bleeding from the soldier’s rifle used on me, the military never offered me access to medical services, which is a clear violation of the UN code and rules of engagement of law enforcement agencies, including voluntary principles,” he said.
He called on the Nigerian Army to carry out a proper investigation on the assault on him and bring the officers and men involved in the act to justice.