Two military officers in Lagos allegedly descended on a lawyer, Gabriel Akintoye, who was on his way home from work, forced him to his knees and bloodied his face with army boots, according to a petition to the Chief of Army Staff by Festus Keyamo, a human rights lawyer.
The incident, which happened at about 5:15 p.m. on February 11, started when the two officers, who were walking behind Mr. Akintoye as he approached the Yaba market, demanded he walk faster or move away from the road for them.
“Our client simply stopped and with the wave of his hand signalled the open way for them to cross,” Mr. Keyamo stated in the petition dated February 23.
“The action provoked the junior ranking officer among the two who termed the action to be insulting and ordered our client to go on his knees.
“Our client refused to go on his knees and demanded to know the reason for such humiliating order and told the army officers that he is a lawyer and that he knows his rights.
“The officers got more provoked and started to beat and assault our client. They forced our client to go on his knees and used their army boots on him till he started to bleed from his mouth and his nose.”
Mr. Keyamo said his client sustained injuries from the assault, lost two mobile phones, a wallet, as well as a white envelope that contained N300,000.
After the alleged assault, Mr. Akintoye and some sympathizers followed the army officers to their Barracks where they met one D.N Onuchukwu, a two star officer who took over the matter and “pretended to settle the issue,” the petition stated.
“Thereafter, one of the soldiers that assaulted our client informed Mr. D.N Onuchukwu that one of our client’s sympathizers who happens to be a lawyer had video record of the assault incident. This information provoked Mr. Onuchukwu to forcefully collect the said lawyer’s phone, destroyed it and ordered the lawyer to run away.”
Mr. Keyamo demanded the military hierarchy produce the officers and for disciplinary actions to be meted to them.
He also demanded a N50,000 compensation for the assault, public humiliation, and dehumanizing treatment of Mr. Akintoye.
“It is pertinent to note that this act by the men and officers of the Nigerian Army depicts a blatant disregard for the constitutional rights of our client and the tenets of any civilized society and clearly shows a despicable affront to the clamour for the enthronement of the rule of law championed by this democratic dispensation,” said Mr. Keyamo.
“Take notice that in the unlikely event that the Nigerian Army authorities ignores, refuses and/or neglects to heed to our demands within 30 working days of service of our letter to you, we shall be left with no option than to enforce our client’s right which will not be limited to an action against the Nigerian Army in court.”