November 11, 2008

Sightings: Becks, Boys and Basketball

BOYS LIFE: David Beckham, taking his Brooklyn and Romeo to an L.A. Lakers game after spending the weekend at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego.

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.”

Lagos bans governors, others from use of siren

The Lagos Government on Monday barred visiting governors and top government officials from using siren in the state.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr.

The state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, announced the ban in Lagos just as the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Paul Dike, ordered the naval headquarters to thoroughly investigate the alleged assault on a 27-year-old lady, Miss Uzoma Okere, by some naval ratings in Lagos.

Although Fashola did not attribute the ban to the assault on Uzoma by the ratings attached to the convoy of Rear Admiral Harry Arogundade, he however said the use of siren by those in authority was a way of terrorising taxpayers whom they were supposed to serve.

The governor, who does not use siren, added that those who do had “continued to constitute an unacceptable slur on the state’s traffic management system.”

He said, “ I have successfully demonstrated that you need patience and not the siren to negotiate through the traffic in Lagos. I seek the cooperation of all and sundry to demonstrate its benefit, including visiting governors and other public officers.

“Let us all get rid of these nuisance on which we spend millions of our hard-earned money to keep the producers in Europe and America in business while we use it to terrorise the taxpayers who we serve.”

Fashola also announced the ban on commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada, in some parts of the state from 7pm.

The affected areas are Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Ikeja.

He said that commercial motorcycles had become a major tool for criminals in facilitating their nefarious activities.

He also pointed out that while government recognised the fact that commercial motorcycles had become a major means of transportation in the state, there was the need to strictly guide their operations.

Fashola said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the provision of the Road Traffic Law, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority Law, the Bus Rapid Transit ‘Lite’ Regulation and the Motor Vehicle Registration and Administration Authority Law all regulate the operation of Okada in the state.

“In keeping with my constitutional duties, particularly section 5 (2) (b) of the Constitution, I have given an executive order restricting the movement of motorcycles during certain hours in specified areas, namely Ikeja, Ikoyi and Victoria Island. This will be strictly and rigorously enforced.”

Meanwhile, the CDS, Air Chief Marshall Dike, on Monday ordered that a report on the assault on Uzoma, daughter of the National Assembly’s Seargeant-at- arms, Col. Emmanuel Okere (rtd.), be sent to him in order to ensure that the law was followed to the letter.

Dike, in a three-paragraph statement by the Director of Defence Information, Col. Chris Jemitola, described the incident as ‘embarrassing and worrisome.’

He expressed the regrets of the Defence Headquarters, saying the assault on the lady had brought odium to the military.

The statement reads, “The Defence Headquarters regrets the embarrassing incident involving a naval convoy and Miss Okere in Lagos on Monday, November 3, 2008.

“The incident is more worrisome especially now that efforts are on to change the poor perception the civil populace have of the military.

“The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, has directed Naval Headquarters to carry out a full and thorough investigation into the incident and report to him immediately as he assures all that the rule of law will be fully observed.”

Uzoma was reportedly beaten and stripped to her underwear by the ratings for allegedly refusing to give way to the convoy of Rear Admiral Harry Arogundade on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The Senate Committee on Navy had on Thursday asked the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Isaiah Ibrahim, to explain the reasons why the ratings assaulted Uzoma.

The Senate committee‘s action was sequel to a petition by the victim‘s father, urging it to look into the matter with the view to bringing his daughter‘s attackers to justice.

The Director of Defence Information had in his initial reaction to the incident claimed that Uzoma provoked the ratings when she allegedly snatched a horsewhip from one of them to beat him.

But Uzoma, at a press conference in Lagos on Sunday, said the naval spokesman was being economical with the truth.

But an associate of Arogundade, Mr. Lanre Osodi, who claimed to have been with the Rear Admiral when the case was reported to him claimed that Uzoma confirmed to the senior officer that she snatched a rating’s horsewhip.

Already, Uzoma has sued Arogundade and the naval ratings for the alleged assault, demanding N100m. She has been offered free legal counsel by the Lagos State Government.

Britney's Son Out of the Hospital

Britney's little boy is back with his family tonight.

The pop star was spotted carrying son Jayden James out of Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center and into a waiting SUV Monday at about 6 p.m., a little more than 24 hours after the two-year-old was taken to the emergency room after suffering a "bad reaction" to something he ingested.

A police and security escort guarded Spears, who, according to one eyewitness, "looked totally exhausted."

The 26-year-old mother of two took her youngest son directly back to her family's "Serenity" compound in nearby Kentwood, La. Britney, dad Jamie Spears, Jayden and 3-year-old Sean Preston just arrived in town on Friday.

Kevin Federline had said that if Jayden was not released today, he would fly from Los Angeles to Mississippi to be with him. There's no word yet whether he still might be making the trip.