By Emma Amaize
WARRI- THE vicious bat-tering of the former Commissioner of Special Duties, Delta State and Executive Director of LITE-Africa, a nongovernmental organisation, Mr. Joel Bisina, by soldiers of the 19th Battalion, Koko, February 24, has assumed a new dimension, as victim has taken his complaint to the Chief of Army Staff and Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Abuja.
Bisina, allegedly pounded on the orders of the Acting Commander of Battalion inside the premises of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Koko, for telling the Chairman of Warri North Local Government Area, Mr. Aduge Okorodudu, how soldiers cowed him and other voters, February 23, on Warri waterways, had earlier petitioned the Brigade Commander, 4th Brigade, Benin City.
NDV obtained his fresh petition, entitled: Human Rights Violation: Dehumanization, physical assault and inhuman treatment of and Assault of Mr. Joel Bisina by Major Y.M. Kachalla, Acting Commanding Officer and other military officers of the 19th Battalion, Nigerian Army Koko, Delta State on the 24th of February 2019, yesterday.
I was beaten, physically and emotionally assaulted
He said: “On this fateful day, on the orders of Major Y.M. Kachalla, I was beaten, physically and emotionally assaulted, violently dehumanized; slapped on the face, kicked on the leg, knocked on the head, struck with the nozzle of the gun, dragged and thrown into a military truck. I was deprived of my fundamental rights, including the right to fair hearing, by officers of the 19th Battalion.
“On Sunday, the 24th of February 2019, as a community leader and the national chairman of Ogbinbiri ward 9, I visited the INEC office located at Koko in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State to ascertain the situation of the election carried out on Saturday 23rd February 2019 which was disrupted by soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
“At the premises of the INEC office, Mr. Aduge Okorodudu, the Warri North Local Government Chairman inquired about my experience at my polling unit during the election. I stated my experience on the day of election, including how among other electorate, we were delayed by officers and men of the Nigerian Army at Idebagbene (Lagos Junction) under the supervision of Lt. Kajiji, who constantly yelled at electorate, telling us that the military was under clear instructions to ‘shoot and kill.’
“I also informed him of how we were delayed for hours without any explanation and after two hours, I made an attempt to inquire why we were being delayed, adding that if there was no reason, we should be let go to enable us proceed to our polling units.
Officer smashed empty Pepsi bottle on Houseboat
“That, I also narrated how, immediately after my inquiry, Lt. Kajiji angrily ordered for his rifle. While waiting for his rifle, he began insulting everyone, pacing and panting furiously. Finally, without warning and regard for the safety and well-being of everyone around, he angrily smashed an empty Pepsi bottle on the handrail of the Houseboat, which sent broken pieces flying in several directions.
“Although nobody was physically hurt by the bottle, his action emotionally traumatised everyone. We finally arrived at our polling unit at Ogbinbiri at about 3:30 pm and voting commenced at about 4 pm and in less than four hours of voting, Lt. Kajiji interrupted the process and ordered ad-hoc staff to stop the voting process,” he asserted.
Bisina, a United Nations Peace Ambassador continued: “I also narrated how another military officer, Captain Sule ordered soldiers to confiscate all electoral materials, including sensitive and non- sensitive materials into the military boat and how, after this incident, we were further held up by the soldiers at Idebagbene (Lagos Junction) for almost an hour.”
How my ordeal started
“After narrating my experience to the LGA chairman, he also narrated his own ordeal with the soldiers about the election. After about 10 minutes, the LGA chairman beckoned on me to come to where he was standing in the presence of security heads and INEC staff, including the Acting Commanding Officer of the 19th Battalion, the Divisional Police Officer, Koko, Head of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp, and INEC officials within the premises of the INEC office in Koko.
“That on my way to meet the LGA Chairman, where he was standing together with the security heads and INEC officials; The Acting Commanding Officer of the 19th Battalion, Major Y.M. Kachalla began yelling at me, saying: ‘Mr man where did you say they broke bottle on your head?” to which I replied, “broke bottle on my head? I did not say anyone broke bottle on my head. Major Kachalla interrupted me angrily, saying; ‘you are a liar, you have been lying, I have known you, this is how you have been lying.’
“That Major Kachalla went further to order his officers to dehumanise me, saying, ‘Double him’ and four soldiers under his instruction publicly dehumanised me. One of them slapped me on the face, the other kicked me on my leg, another knocked me on my head and hit me at my 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 Major Kachalla began to ask me to respond to the false accusation of lying.
“ I responded that ‘I have only one life to live and my life is only worth one breath, why am I being treated like a common criminal and what have I done to warrant this kind of treatment,’ one of the soldiers standing by screamed: ‘You are standing before an officer and you are still talking?’ Without provocation, a soldier standing by me struck me twice with the nozzle of his gun, which brutally bruised me, leaving me with bleeding wounds.
“Although I suffered bleeding wounds from the soldier’s rifle, the military never offered me access to medical services, which is a clear violation of our national law, the UN code and rules of engagement of law enforcement agencies.
“It took the intervention of the LGA chairman at this point to stop Major Kachalla and his soldiers from meting at me further cruel and dehumanising treatment. Later, at the instance of the LGA chairman, Major Kachalla asked me to narrate what happened from the beginning.
“I responded that since he had passed judgement and given out punishment to me without hearing my own side of the story, ‘I will only state my side of the story to people who would protect my right to a fair hearing.’
Appeal to CoS
“I make this petition to report what ordinary citizens suffer at the hands of military men. The treatment I received is not deserving of a common criminal let alone someone of my status who has contributed to the betterment of society through various capacity building projects and activities which include working with the IOC’s local and international reputable organisations, such as the Rotary International,” the activist noted.
He urged the Nigerian military authority “to properly investigate and bring the parties involved to justice in line with the military rules of engagement, the 1999 Constitution, UN Code of conduct for law enforcement officers, including the Voluntary Principles, which requires that perceived right violations be impartially and promptly investigated to protect citizens from further violations.”
He said: “If it is found that the actions of Major Y.M. Kachalla and the other officers, who acted on his orders are not consistent with laid down military rules of engagement, then, proper sanctions should be taken against them to serve as deterrent and guard against further violations…”