November 11, 2008

Assault: Admiral not fit to hold rank –Victim’s father

The father of the victim of the naval ratings‘ brutality in Lagos, Col. Emeka Okere (rtd), has said that the conduct of Rear Admiral Harry Arogundade was unbecoming of a military officer of his rank.

The victim of the recent naval ratings’ assault, Miss Uzoma Okere

He criticised the naval officer for watching his men beat and strip his daughter, Uzoma.

Okere, the Sergeant-At-Arms of the National Assembly, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Monday in Abuja said that all he wanted was justice, irrespective of who was involved.

He also said that claims that he tendered apologies to the admiral when he spoke to him on the phone was unfounded.

He said, “The issue of apology cannot come up because it is something I did not witness. I was in Abuja here and she was in Lagos; I just saw my daughter‘s name as my phone rang.

“She was not the one that initiated the call; and I tried to speak to her, it was impossible. I was only hearing her crying from a distance, ‘leave me alone, leave me alone, I have done nothing.‘

“Apparently, it appeared to me that she was besieged by some people. Her friend who held the phone told me that she was being beaten by some naval people, that was when I pictured what was happening.”

He said Arogundade had painted a very wrong picture to him about what was happening.

Okere said, “He tried to tell me that he knew me, that I was his senior; but I told him it was not the issue, but that somebody was distressed.

“How can I apologise for somebody being beaten, even beaten to death; where on earth would such a thing be done?

“If a senior officer of the level of an admiral, whose boys did the battering and he was watching, that person should not wear the rank he is wearing. Because it takes a lot; a rear admiral is equivalent to a major general; if you cannot control six ratings at his level, then I don‘t think he is fit to be an admiral.

“Yes, because he watched the whole drama unfold and he was in a position to control the incident; he would have told the boys to stop the act, knowing that they were under the public glare.

“People were watching; I am sure if that person did not use his secret camera to take the pictures, everything would have been denied. I did not know that the battering was to that extent.”

Okere added that the fact that the admiral knew him and they were colleagues should have caused him to end the matter quickly.

“So there was nothing he did to show any relationship. I read in the papers where he said I taught him in the military school and that we were colleagues and so on, but the espirit des corps was completely missing,” he said.

He also disputed the notion that it was a military culture to deliver corporal punishment to civilians at any time there was a disagreement with them.

He added that no right- thinking officer would maltreat a civilian he was being paid to protect.

He said, “I wore the uniform for so many years; and I don‘t think I went out of my way to humiliate anybody. The mere fact that you are in uniform should make you humble because you are one out of so many.”

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