No fewer than 10 men of the Nigerian Navy, attached to the NNS Soroh, Gwegwe, in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, have allegedly battered a civil servant with the Bayelsa State’s Board of Internal Revenue, Alexander Ebipadou.
It was learnt that the naval ratings, led by one Seaman A.P. Adamu, were armed with daggers, horsewhips, sticks and belts, among other weapons. They reportedly pounced on Ebipadou, popularly known as Biggie, and beat him to a pulp over an offence he said he knew nothing about.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the incident occurred on Friday, March 17, 2017, at about 7.30pm on Customs Street in the Biogbolo-Epie area of Yenagoa metropolis.
The 22-year-old Ebipadou, a Business Administration graduate from the North American University, Republic of Benin, had reportedly gone to buy a bottle of soft drink when the naval personnel assaulted him.
Eyewitnesses said earlier on the day, Adamu had fought with an unnamed boy in the area. They said the Seaman, a former driver of a former Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, identified only as Rear Admiral Dick, came back in the evening with his colleagues and went berserk, beating youths they found in the area.
One of the eyewitnesses said Ebipadou was pummelled until he became unconscious.
“Residents watched helplessly from afar as the naval personnel pummelled Ebipadou. His appeal that he was ill did not assuage the attackers,” the witness, who did not want his name in print, said.
Ebipadou, who works in the Collections Department, Motor Licensing Authority, Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue, said he would have been killed, but for the timely intervention of his mother.
He said his doctor told him that he risked losing his sight if he was not given proper medical attention.
He said, “I came back from work at about 4.30pm on that day. Because I was not feeling well, I decided to take a nap. By 5.30pm, I woke up when my mother returned from work. I went back to bed and woke up around 7pm to put on the generator for my mother.
“At 7.30pm, I left for a nearby shop to buy a bottle of soft drink to take my drugs because my tongue was bitter. After buying the drink, I was about to go back home when I saw some men in naval camouflage. They were 10, including a woman. They came after me with planks, sticks, belts, wires and horsewhips. I asked them what I did that warranted them beating me like a criminal, but I got more beating.
“I saw a neighbour going to church and beckoned on him to go and inform my mother. They left me temporarily and went for the neighbour. They beat him, removed his shirt and dragged him on the ground.
“After beating him to their satisfaction, they left him and came back to me. They beat me until I passed out.
“By the time I came round, I saw my mother asking them what I did, but they refused to answer her. Before my mother came, they had already seized my phone.
“She told them she was a government worker. One of them flung me on the ground again and started hitting me on the face. Then, one drunken officer retorted, ‘who is your mother?’ Did she school in Cambridge University?
“He threatened to kill her and that nothing would happen. The woman among them saw the level of my mother’s anguish and the extent they had beaten me and appealed to her colleagues to leave me alone. The naval woman returned my phone. She said I was not a criminal. Thereafter, they all left.’’
Ebipadou appealed to the relevant authorities to intervene and bring his attackers to book.
“I was rushed to the government-owned Diete Koki Hospital. I cannot go out without putting on sunglasses. My eyes are still very red.
‘’I never expected such from the naval personnel. I want justice to prevail. I want the authorities to fish out those behind the assault,’’ he added.
The mother of the victim and Chief Administrative Officer, Bayelsa State Pensions Board, Mrs. Gloria Ekpe, called on the naval authorities to bring the perpetrators to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
She said, “The incessant brutalisation of harmless civilians by men in uniform should stop. As a law-abiding citizen, I need justice to serve as a deterrent to other lawless uniform men.’’
The counsel for the family, I.A. Gbadamosi of Agalu Chambers, said he had petitioned the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, on the assault on Ebipadou.
A copy of the petition, which was obtained by our correspondent, read in part,
“It is only in doing this (punishing the culprits) that justice will be said to have been done; injustice done somewhere is a threat to justice done everywhere.
“Besides, it will send a signal to discourage would-be perpetrators of crimes, especially, security operatives who misuse the privilege of their offices to oppress innocent citizens of this country. This will eventually entrench civilisation and decorum in our society.”
When contacted, the spokesman for the CNC, Lt. Commander Tope Odunaike, said the matter had yet to be formally reported to the authorities.
However, a ranking naval officer at the NNS Soroh, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the copy of the family’s petition had been received.
“We do not condone such act of indiscipline in our command. We will thoroughly investigate the matter and those behind the brutalisation will be brought to justice,’’ the naval officer said.