In enforcing the 48-hour curfew imposed by the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to stem the activities of hoodlums in the state, some soldiers on Saturday reportedly forced a medical doctor, Raphael Onyemekehia, to swim in a pool of muddy water along the Effurun-Warri Road in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state.
The incident happened around 11 a.m. when the doctor was on his way to the clinic, the victim and the state’s medical association said.
The soldiers forced the doctor to swim inside the muddy water at gunpoint while he was heading for work.
Mr Onyemekehia, a consultant physician, reportedly identified himself to the soldiers with his identity card before he was ordered to enter the gutter and swim for allegedly violating the curfew.
The soldiers allegedly told the medical doctor that nobody was exempted from the curfew by the order given to them.
But Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had while declaring the curfew exempted essential workers including medical workers from the restriction of movement owing to the violence that greeted the #EndSARS protests across the country.
However, the soldiers told the doctor that he violated the state-wide curfew declared by the state governor.
They reportedly threatened to shoot him if he failed to swim in the gutter.
A dejected Mr Onyemekehia was said to have swum for about 30 minutes before a senior military officer who ran into the group saved him from further humiliation.
The military authorities are yet to react to the allegations.
Mr Onyemekehia confirmed the incident but directed this reporter to speak with his union, whom he said he had reported to.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Emmanuel Nwose, confirmed the development.
Mr Nwose disclosed that he had reported the incident to Mr Okowa.
He demanded that the perpetrators be fished out and prosecuted by the military authorities to serve as a warning to overzealous soldiers.
The NMA chairman said, “On his way to work he was beaten up by soldiers at Airport Junction in Effurun around 11 am today (Saturday). The victim is Raphael Onyemekehia, a consultant physician. He reported to us and said the soldiers were without their name tags.
“When he got to the checkpoint, he showed them his ID card and told them he was going to work but they refused him passage. Thereafter, they ordered him to swim in the murky water inside the gutter. Since they pointed a gun at him, he had no option than to enter the water to swim.
“While he was swimming, they were flogging him until a superior officer came and told them to allow him to go home. He sustained injuries. This is not acceptable to us. As doctors, we are essential workers and when we say we want to attend to patients, we should be allowed to do that.
“What we (NMA) are demanding is that those military personnel should be identified and brought to book. If nothing is done about this, we will be forced to withdraw our services until our member gets justice.
“We are calling on the Delta State Government and the military authorities to fish out the soldiers that committed this crime and with necessary disciplinary action taken against them. Our members must be duly compensated or we will call for the withdrawal of our services.”
The 3 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Effurun, has no spokesperson. A military contact in the 16 Brigade, Charles Ekeocha, told our reporter to come to the barracks “to make any inquiry” as he is not the spokesperson.
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