Nigerians react to naval ratings‘ assault on lady
By Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe, Olalekan Adetayo and Victor Sam
Published: Wednesday, 5 Nov 2008
Angry reactions on Tuesday trailed the Monday assault by armed naval ratings on a lady, Uzoma Okere, in Lagos.
All those who reacted, including human rights activists and hundreds of online readers of THE PUNCH, described the act as barbaric and called for the prosecution of the perpetrators.
The reactions came at a time when some concerned Lagosians who witnessed and recorded the dastardly act on a camcoder released its video footage to the public.
Six armed naval ratings attached to a Rear Admiral identified as Harry Arogundade, went wild on Monday on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, beating and stripping the lady naked.
According to eyewitnesses, the naval ratings hit the lady with their gun butts and beat her with horsewhips.
She was accused of not quickly giving way for the naval officer‘s convoy on her way home in her Mitsubishi Colt car.
By the time the rage ended, Okere, who was forcibly handcuffed and dragged into a private residence on the street in a humiliating assault, was left with a battered face, blood-shot eyes and bruises all over her body.
She was admitted at Kamorass Hospital on Victoria Island.
As at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 98 reactions had been posted to THE PUNCH‘s website by Nigerians (both at home and in the Diaspora) who were irked by the incident, making the news item top on the list of most read stories on the website for the day.
All of them agreed that no man, no matter his social status, had the right to infringe on another citizen‘s fundamental human right.
In her reaction, the Director, Gender Development Action, Ms. Ada Agina-Ude, described the assault on the lady as a display of raw power.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Agina-Ude called on lawyers, women and human rights activists, to rally round the lady with a view to getting justice.
She said, ”My first reaction is that what type of military personnel will beat a woman to that extent because of a traffic offence, assuming she even committed it. I don‘t understand that kind of mentality.
”She did the right thing by getting a lawyer. I plead with the lawyer to ensure that the case is pursued to the end.”
Another activist, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, while describing the incident as condemnable and barbaric, said all those involved should be brought to book.
She added that it was regrettable that a Rear Admiral who should be looked up to by junior officers for direction could allow his boys to misbehave in his presence.
Also, the Deputy Director, Women Advocacy and Documentation Research Centre, Mrs. Grace Ketefe, said the naval ratings‘ action was against the dignity of a woman.
Ketefe said because of her organisation‘s belief that the perpetrators should not go unpunished; it would soon address the public and petition policy makers on the issue.
But the Nigerian Navy, on Tuesday, attributed the incident to provocation from the victim.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore David Naibada, alleged that Okere provoked one of the naval ratings when she stepped out of her car that was in front of the admiral‘s convoy and seized the horsewhip he was holding.
Naibada accused the victim of making up stories to embarrass the admiral ”who incidentally was a junior officer to her father when the duo were in the military school together
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