November 13, 2008

Navy summons Rear Admiral to DHQ over assault on lady

ndications emerged on Wednesday that the naval authorities had summoned Rear Admiral Harry Arogundade to Abuja over the assault on a lady, Miss Uzoma Okere, in Lagos on November 3.

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

Uzoma was beaten up and stripped half naked by six naval ratings attached to Arogundade, the Flag Officer, Commanding Logistic Command of the Nigerian Navy, Oghara, Delta State.

The summon comes exactly three days after the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, ordered the Navy to thoroughly investigate the incident which attracted widespread condemnation from within and outside the country.

Our correspondent in Warri gathered from a very reliable source in the Navy that a team had been constituted to drill Arogundade on the assault.

Our source, who is with the command in Oghara, said Arogundade left for Abuja through Lagos on Tuesday.

It was learnt at the command that Arogundade was directed to come in company with the ratings who assaulted Uzoma, the daughter of the National Assembly Sergeant-At-Arms, Col. Emmanuel Okere (rtd.).

The source said, “The FOC (Arogundade) has left the command in response to the summons of DHQ over the alleged assault on a lady in Lagos by the ratings attached to him. You can go to his office and you will discover that he’s not around.

“The man just packed his bags and baggage en-route Lagos for Abuja on Tuesday. The order asking him to report in Abuja came suddenly on Monday.

“You know that the incident has discredited the armed forces and the CDS was very disturbed by the negative publicity it has attracted both in the local and international media.

“The FOC was billed to return to Oghara when the order came and he had to put things in order immediately and departed from Lagos . He left in company with the six ratings who caused the trouble for him in Lagos as directed by the DHQ.

“They will appear before the in-house board of enquiry set up by DHQ on the matter before Friday. It is unfortunate that these ratings caused the problem for the FOC.

“The incident has rubbished the image of not only the Navy but the armed forces in general. It has especially eroded the gains of the campaign for better military/civil relationship by the present leadership of the armed forces.”

Efforts on Wednesday to get official confirmation of Arogundade’s summon at the Public Relations Unit of the command were futile.

The Head of the unit was not around when one of our correspondents called at his office. He also could not be reached on the telephone.

However, a senior officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the summon was in line with the position of the CDS that the incident should be investigated.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Human Rights and Ethics in Development has demanded the immediate retirement of Arogundade for allegedly allowing the naval ratings to assault Uzoma.

The group, in a statement by its Senior Programme Officer, Mr. Akin Salvage, on Wednesday said that the incident was an indication that some security officers in the country were yet to learn to be tolerant.

It described as barbaric, “a situation whereby a defenseless lady would be physically assaulted on the street of Lagos, chained and taken into unlawful detention by some uneducated, untrained and unenlightened naval ratings while transporting their boss home.”

The group commended President Umaru Yar’Adua’s order of full investigation into the incident and advised that the report of the probe should be made public.

“Admiral Arogundade, if found culpable, should be retired out-rightly from service to serve as deterrent to other erring officers who always trample the rights of innocent members of the public, while the ratings should be dismissed,” it added.

CHRED said part of Arogundade’s retirement benefits should be set aside, to pay compensation to the victim.

It said, “The fact that Arogundade blared siren was another offence he committed against the land, because he is not covered by traffic laws to make use of it on the roads.

“If Arogundade were to have behaved this way in a western country , he would probably be cooling off in jail.”

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