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Army, ‘bloody civilian’ spat turns awry


From the Nigerian Army came yesterday a warning

From the Nigerian Army came yesterday a warning

A MIDDLE-AGED man, Daniel Owie, is at loggerheads with authorities of the 4 Brigade, Nigeria Army in Benin City over gunshot wounds on his leg and alleged “merciless beating” by soldiers on suspicion that he was an armed robber as against his claim that he met his predicament because he told an Army officer to remove his vehicle, which was obstructing his own.

But the 4 Brigade Command on Tuesday insisted that Owie was a member of a robbery gang, which tried to rob the officer along Ihama Road in GRA, Benin City and was shot in the leg while trying to escape.

Owie, currently in detention at the Edo State Command Headquarters of the Nigeria Police in clutches, has cried out to the public and the necessary authorities for urgent intervention to save him from dying.

In a petition to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, the victim appealed to the police boss to investigate the alleged attempt on his life and the breach of his fundamental human rights by the soldiers said to have been led by a yet to be identified captain in Benin.

In the petition through his counsel, Benjamin Iluobe, Owie appealed to the IGP to direct the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, to carry out a thorough investigation into what he tagged “an abuse of power by an Army captain and his men.”

But the Public Relations Officer of the 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Benin, Capt. Joseph Unuakhalu, said Owie was a member of a robbery gang, who robbed an Army officer along Ihama Road on the fateful day and was arrested by personnel of the Nigerian Air Force.

According to the statement by Unuakhalu, “At about 10:30p.m. on October 3, 2015, troops of 4 Brigade Garrison responding to a distress call, rescued an Army officer, who was attacked by suspected armed robbers at Ihama Junction, along Airport Road, Benin City.”

He said: “During the attack, the officer’s index finger was cut off by the suspected robbers. Earlier, the gang had robbed two policemen from Lagos Command, who came for their colleague’s wedding. Prior to the troops’ arrival, personnel of the Nigerian Air Force close to the scene responded and arrested one of the suspected robbers, Mr. Daniel Owie, while others ran away abandoning a Kia Sportage Jeep with Reg No. EDO BEN 190 BR.”

The Army spokesman added: “He was handed over to our troops on arrival. However, the suspect attempted to escape and was shot on his left leg. The suspect is currently receiving treatment at UBTH while investigations are ongoing.”

But narrating his ordeal to newsmen at the state command Benin where he is at present being detained, Owie said: “I live in Belgium; I came to Nigeria for my friend’s mother’s burial. This incident happened at about 8.00p.m.

“There was heavy rainfall that day, October 3 and there was flood. I stepped out of the car to tell this very guy on a C-Class that he should move so that we could pass because the other place was covered with flood. He didn’t respond, and then I asked again: ‘Please sir, move your car. The next thing, he stepped out of the car and gave me a heavy punch on my eye.’”

According to the victim, “I told him this was not fair and he said I had no right to tell him to move his car that if I knew who he was and I said I didn’t want to know who he was, that he should move his car, then before I knew it, he and his colleagues beat the hell out of me. Then they called for back-up and one Operation Thunder Storm vehicle came and Captain Ken gave them orders to take me.

“I was on the ground and they were still smashing me. I was trying to protect my ribs but I failed and then when it came to the point I felt like I was going to die, I told one of the soldiers that I wanted to urinate. When I stood up to walk, Captain Ken shot my leg that I wanted to run.

“I have been here for more than 10 days now, I spent two days in UBTH, then the Federal High Court gave an order that the military men should bring me to the court to explain why the two military men shot me and why I was arrested. Instead of taking me to the court, they decided to take me to the police station.”

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