How Nigerian soldier beat my brother to death, Witness tells tribunal

A Nigerian Army sergeant, Taiwo Owoye, has been accused of culpability for the death of a 27-year-old commercial motorcyclist, Abu Alhaji, in Lagos.

Mr. Alhaji died on January 28 at the Reference Hospital, Lagos, a day after he was allegedly assaulted by the soldier over a traffic incident, the brother of the deceased told the Human Rights Army Tribunal on Tuesday.

The tribunal is currently sitting in the premises of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on cases involving alleged rights violation by officers of the Nigerian Army.

The case of Mr. Alhaji was brought before the tribunal by the Nigerian Human Rights Commission through its counsel, Lucas Gboyejo and Emmanuella Anyawu.

Testifying before the tribunal, Mr. Mohammed said his deceased brother was operating his motorcycle taxi in Maroko area of Lagos.

“Abu Alhaji took a passenger to Maroko Roundabout on January 27 and parked at the back of a vehicle,” Mr. Mohammed recounted.

“Unknown to him, the car had an occupant. When he realized this, he knocked on the car so that the car which could move would not hit him at that time. But the driver of the car was unfortunately an Army officer who is Sergeant Taiwo Owoye.

“Sergeant Owoye slapped my brother twice and my brother fell down. After falling down, the sergeant did not stop and started hitting my brother in the stomach severally, which made him unconscious.

“Abu started vomiting and he was vomiting blood and other things before we rushed him to the hospital where he died the next day around 10:30 p.m.

“Afterwards, the sergeant boasted that nothing would happen even after the incident if my brother died.”

Mr. Mohammed who was the only witness presented by the commission, said the Nigeria Police withheld the corpse for four months and refused to release a copy of the autopsy report to the family.

“We tried to get his corpse but they did not release it to us till May 25, 2017. They said they were doing autopsy but even we the family did not get any copy of the autopsy report from them.

“We even applied for ambulance but they failed to give to us saying we should pay a huge amount which we could not afford”.

Mr. Mohammed asked the tribunal to help the deceased’s family get justice.

“We want justice because nothing has been heard about the case since. Even the Nigerian Military although arrested him (the accused), but after the arrest we did not hear anything at all. We want the accused officer to be prosecuted and a compensation paid for damages.”

Replying to the charge, the Chairman of the panel, Abraham Georgewill, promised to expedite action to ensure justice after proper investigations.

“We promise that issues will be addressed. We will hear from the Nigerian Army because this is a huge case. We sympathize with your family over the death of the young man but we will get back to you after due investigations.” Mr. Georgewill said.

The tribunal was set up following a spate of allegations of abuse of human rights by Nigerian Army officers.

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