On Friday March 23, 2015 after the jumat prayers, Michael Adindu Olumba was walking past the Naval Building, the Ship House. He was coming from Area 10 where he had gone to print some brochures. There were no taxi’s going in his direction in the area so he decided to walk towards the next junction where he had found a taxi before.
He was wearing his earphones, listening to music and couldn’t hear the sounds around him. Suddenly he felt a slap. As he walked along the sidewalk in front of the Ship House the soldiers on sentry duty had tried to call him. Apparently walking in front of the Ship House isn’t allowed. When he didn’t answer they attacked him with a vicious slap and threw him to the ground.
Terrified and disoriented he didn’t resist and they dragged him back to their look out tent where the apparent leader was in mufti. They all held guns. He said he was scared they would shoot him.
“Why are you walking in front of here? Don’t you know that this place is a security zone? We have been calling you? Why didn’t you answer? What do you have in your pockets? We will deal with you today!” the man in mufti shouted at him and started searching him.
They took all his money and were about to drag him further into their tent when a man at the gate gave a signal for them to let him go.
“You are lucky” they told him as they shoved him out again.
This wasn’t the only incident of over zealousness against citizens by the security forces. Mr. Mike Enahoro’s driver was severely beaten before witnesses at the gate of CBN earlier on the same day. His offence? He was allowed to drive in without a tag but when he tried to drive out and couldn’t give one to them at the exit gate he was dragged out of the car and assaulted by the soldiers on duty.
While I appreciate that we are on high alert in the capital due to the activities of Boko Haram violent abusive assaults on citizens are unconstitutional and infringe their fundamental human rights. I am now representing Michael Olumba.
Michael Olumba demands an apology from the men involved, disciplinary action against them and reasonable reassurances that it won’t happen again. Reassurance that the armed forces of Nigeria will respect his rights as a citizen, that where they must needs infringe on his rights and liberties for security reasons they inform him so he can cooperate with them. Reassurances that they will put clear and obvious signs around all security zones to enable pedestrians identify and avoid them. Reassurances that the Nigerian Army will invest in its personnel and provide necessary capacity building for them. He also wants compensation for the mental and physical trauma that the Nigerian Army through its soldiers caused him.
We would like the national Human Rights Commission and the Nigerian Army/Navy to investigate and determine the precise circumstances of the matter and act accordingly and in manner that will send strong signals to all security and defence staff – that human rights abuses will no longer be tolerated. We would like the NHRC to make policy recommendations to the armed forced on treatment of citizens in a democracy.