Residents lament military harassment as soldier, naval rating clash

Residents of Amusu and Matimum areas of Apapa, Lagos State, have lamented alleged harassment and intimidation of people in the area by some military men.

It was gathered that a soldier, Kabiru Yakub, and a naval rating, Ikenna Opute, live on Amusu Street, Badia Ijora, Apapa.

Yakubu was alleged to have mobilised his colleagues in the army to beat up Opute after the latter challenged him for assaulting some residents.

Not done, the soldier allegedly mobilised more men, who invaded the street and beat up residents in a show of power.

A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the community had been under military siege, adding that residents were living in fear.

He said, “On Saturday, the naval rating and his colleagues, came to the street and observed how Yakubu was beating up people whom he said were disrespectful to him. He threatened to take people to the barracks.

“When the naval men cautioned him, he got angry and told them never to advise him again. He said they were not in a position to correct him and Opute was not his senior.

“The naval men wanted to take him to their base, but people begged them and they left him.

“On Sunday, May 5, 2019, Yakub came with four soldiers who were in mufti, and started searching for Opute. They combed the area and chased residents, asking them to produce him.

“When the soldiers saw him, they attacked him with a dagger, claiming that he harassed a soldier on the street. Before other naval ratings could come to his rescue, the soldiers had escaped. The rating was rushed to the Naval Base Medical Hospital, Ajegunle, where he is receiving treatment.

“They have been coming every day since then and harassing us. I believe that Yakub must have lied to them; that was why his colleagues have been harassing us.”

Another resident, Iyabode Onimoto, said four people were taken away by the soldiers on Monday.

She said, “On Monday, the soldiers reinforced and brought a bus from the Signal Barracks, Mile 2. They beat up people, manhandled them and broke into houses. They arrested four people; one of them was released after he had been beaten to a pulp.

“On Tuesday, a resident went to the barracks and explained to the Regimental Sergeant Major, who ordered the immediate release of the three others. They came later in the day again, shooting continuously into the air and the manager of a hotel was arrested. When we called the RSM, he also instructed that they should release the manager.

“We cannot sleep with two eyes closed and some mosques cannot have their Solat at night despite the Ramadan.”

A resident, identified only as Kayode, said if the two military outfits had a problem with each other, they should resolve it without involving civilians.

He said, “We call on the military authorities to do the needful and call the officers to order. We have lost our peace. If the military outfits have misunderstandings, they should resolve them amicably, but not at the detriment of innocent residents.”

The Information Officer, Western Naval Command, Bridget Emiola, said she was not aware of the incident.

Efforts to reach the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 81 Division, Lagos, Lt. Col. Olaolu Daodu, were futile as calls to his telephone number rang out.