A human rights activist, Austin Aduba, has shared a pathetic story of how soldiers who were enforcing lockdown order in Bonny area of Rivers state tortured a young man who only demanded for permission to collect a phone charger from about two poles away from where the soldiers were stationed.
According to the activist, the soldiers, rather than give him the option of either returning to his house or go and collect the phone charger, carried out one of the most wicked acts on man in the area. He was given beatings and made to swim in the gutter for over three hours. Besides swimming in the gutter, he was compelled to drink the water which definitely will be harmful to his health.
The name of the victim is Justus Jim-Halliday. He is a resident of Bonny Island in Rivers state. The soldiers were said to be on duty, enforcing the lockdown order by the Rivers state governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike.
In a statement he made available to journalists, the human rights lawyer disclosed that his client was subjected to the most painful and dehumanising experience by soldiers for approaching them to gain access to collect his phone charger.
Narrating his client’s ordeal, the lawyer explained that the recent lockdown announced by the River state government last week was fully enforced in Bonny Island on Monday, June 21 2020, as it got more than 80% compliance by residents.
According to the victim’s story attached to the statement: “The next day, after observing from my area that people were moving around in facemask, I also got my facemask and walked up to the soldiers to appeal to them to allow me pick up a charger from two shops away from where they were stationed and this was my only crime.
“The soldiers started by laughing at me and told me that it wasn’t hospital emergency or food but charger. The next thing without telling me to go back home or go to where I wanted, one of them told me to hold on to a pillar for strokes of whips.
“The next thing was a whip sound close to my ear and before I turned the man was raising his hands for another one so I held his hands and asked “Why should he flog me and what was my offence?”
“While talking, an additional three personnel approached and were trying to overpower me to get whipped and one was actually hitting me with the head of a gun. I laughed at him and said,”Hmmmm.. ok” the man in-charge tried to slap me for my exclamation. Then one of them ‘cracked his gun’ and told me he would shoot me.
“Surprisingly, we had the Bonny local government COVID-19 team in a bus at the junction of Akiama where this incident was taking place with Bright Hart and Comrade Williams Ogbah Agwu in the bus watching or not, I can’t tell but honestly it would be stupid not to notice a struggle like that.
“After all the struggle, the man in charge told them to leave me and told me to follow him. Which I did and he ordered me to lie inside dirty water which is their normal punishment for civilians and which also stands as abuse of power.
“Shortly, a man with higher rank came and put handcuffs on me like a criminal and told me to still stay inside the water. But while this was going on I noticed that none of these personnel in uniform had their name tags on except the officer who handcuffed me and his aide.
“Not quite five minutes someone from the bus parked at a distance came down to have a word with the most senior officer who later informed me that I would be following him to the barracks and he had somewhere to go that his boys should leave me there.
“I was inside the gutter for three hours. My people, I saw hell as I was told to also drink from the water and lick the moody black stuff in there. I had no other option than to obey all their instructions and carryout whatever they instructed me.
“So as the most senior officer left, I was still being manhandled like a thief and was getting abuses. They asked who I was and I told them I am a nobody just an indigene of Bonny with the name Justus Jim-Halliday.
“On the return of the most senior officer, the interrogations continued and by this time they started asking which of the cult groups do I belong and who are the leaders in the community sponsoring my activities, especially the upkeep of our members.
“I stood my ground that I am not a cultist. They checked for tattoos on my body and found none. I thank God that I rejected tatoos on my body when I was younger, if not, who knows, they must have killed me by now”.
Barrister Aduba has therefore urged the River state governor, Nyesom Wike, the commander of the various military formations especially the Navy operating in the riverine areas to call their men to order in dealing with civil populace even as they enforce compliance with the lockdown order.