November 14, 2008

Naval ratings go wild again, kill policeman

Two naval ratings have been arrested by the Ogun State Command Police for allegedly killing a policeman and severely wounding another in a scuffle at a hotel in Ota.

The policemen Mr. Oladiran Abanikanda and – Adewale Nureini, were said to have been stabbed on Wednesday night after an argument over a female attendant at the hotel.

Abanikanda reportedly died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital on Thursday morning after a spirited attempt to save his life. Nureini is said to be responding to treatment at the Ota General Hospital.

The Ota incident occurred less than two weeks after six naval ratings attached to the convoy of the Chief of Naval Logistics, Rear Admiral Harry Arogundade beat up and stripped a 27-year-old lady, Miss Uzoma Okere, in Lagos.

Arogundade and the six naval ratings were on Wednesday summoned by the authorities of the Nigerian Navy to the Defence Headquarters over the attack on Uzoma, who is the daughter of the National Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms.

About three years ago, a naval officer, Lt. Felix Odulami, shot dead a commercial motor cycle (Okada) operator in Ikeja, Lagos, for allegedly hitting his Mercedes Benz 190E.

The naval authorities set up a board of inquiry to investigate the killing, but up till now the outcome is yet to be made public.

The Police Area Commander of in Ota, Mr. Adeoye Oyelola, who confirmed the incident on Thursday to our correspondent on the telephone, said the two policemen were first rushed to a private hospital before being transferred to different health institutions.

The area commander, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, alleged that the ratings, after committing the crime, tried to escape.

He said, “A medical doctor alerted me that two of my men had been rushed to his hospital after they were stabbed. So, I had to rush there. I was told that one of the ratings objected when one of the policemen asked a lady attendant to serve him a drink. He (rating) was said to have told the constable, who was not in uniform, not to send the lady on an errand because she was his girlfriend.”

“It was during the argument that followed that one of the naval ratings brought out his knife and stabbed the policeman at the back. In an attempt by another police officer to seize the knife from the rating, his colleague brought out his own knife and stabbed him.”

Oyelola, however, said while one of the ratings was arrested on the spot, the other was caught ”loitering around the police station in an attempt to call for re-inforcement.”

He added that some naval personnel were in the area command on Wednesday night for consultations over the incident.

Oyelola‘s claims, however, differed from the uncoordinated accounts of the two ratings. They had said during a preliminary interrogation that their attempt to report an assault on them by the late Abanikanda and Nureini was frustrated by other policemen.

Our correspondent in Abeokuta learnt that the case had already been reported to the office of the Inspector – General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro.

The ratings are believed to have been detained in separate cells in one of the police stations in the state capital.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Bassey Inyang, also confirmed the incident but said the case was still with the State Criminal Investigation Department.

”I have heard the case but you know it has to be properly investigated. I will not be able to say much on it now, ” Inyang said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association on Thursday demanded sanctions against Arogundade and the six ratings that attacked Uzoma.

It also deplored the detention of a magistrate and some lawyers by policemen in a court at Oji-River, Enugu State.

The NBA, in a statement by its National President, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), called for a stop to what it called “despicable violence against civilians inherent in the culture of our armed forces and the police.”

The statement reads in part, ”We condemn the barbaric act against Uzoma and call on the naval command to immediately sanction the errant ratings and the naval officer under whose watch she was beaten and stripped naked in addition to paying her adequate compensation for the damages, which resulted from their action.

“The senseless and horrible treatment meted out to Okere in Lagos on November 3, 2008 is one case too many. The barbarism witnessed in this case is certainly not an aberrant act.”

On the Oji-River incident, the association said, “We also note and condemn the action of a detachment of the Nigeria Police Force, which detained a senior magistrate for carrying out her judicial function.

“The detention of Senior Magistrate Mrs. Uche Mogboh and lawyers in her court at the behest of an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Ashabua, for making a formal order of discharge and acquittal of an accused person in the course of the performance of her judicial function is condemnable.”

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