Soldiers attached to the Flag House, Force Road, Lagos, have been accused of killing a 61-year-old man, Adewale Olupitan-Hazzan.
It was learnt that the soldiers who were driving in a military convoy on Ikorodu Road on July 15 went on the rampage and brutalised Adewale, a road user, for allegedly breaking the side mirror of one of the vehicles in their convoy.
It was gathered that Adewale was bundled out of his Toyota Camry and thoroughly beaten by the soldiers at the Obanikoro end of Ikorodu Road.
Adewale’s younger brother, Adedotun, said his brother even up till the time of his death, insisted that he did not do anything wrong to warrant such brutality.
He said, “He said when he heard the sound of the siren, he slowed down and adjusted to pave the way for them but was taken aback when the last car in the convoy, a Peugeot 407, marked NA 01AO, parked beside him.
“He said before he knew it, the soldiers bundled him out of his car beat him up and hit him repeatedly with the butts of their guns.”
Adedotun said a military officer identified simply as Capt. Peter, who was just passing by was moved by his predicament and urged the rampaging soldiers to release him.
Adedotun said, “But unfortunately Peter’s intervention could not secure his release, they insisted that he must follow them to their base to see one of their superiors. They also took his car with them.
“However, Peter followed them to the Flag Staff House and eventually secured his release on the condition that he replaced the side mirror.”
Adedotun said though Adewale, who retired as an assistant director, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency in 2006, did not break the side mirror of the vehicle, he replaced it to allow peace to reign and later got his car released on July 16.
He said when his brother got home, he complained about nagging headache and later had a swollen head.
He said, “He received treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta, before he was moved to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and later referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
“A brain surgery was carried out on him on July 29 after X-ray examinations revealed that he had a head trauma. He died some few hours after the operation.”
A death certificate issued by LUTH dated July 29, indicated Adewale suffered from subdural hematoma following a head trauma.
The certificate signed by Dr. Alagbe, stated the primary cause of Adewale’s death was “Subacute Subdural Hematoma,” the secondary cause was “Cardiopulmonary failure.” It added that “the disease had continued till his death.”
A doctor, who craved anonymity, said the death certificate showed that there was “bleeding into the space between the dura (covering of the brain) and the brain itself.”
The deceased first son, Omololu, whose wedding ceremony billed for October 20 has been suspended, said his father could not have argued with the soldiers because he had always warned them not to argue with armed men.
He said, “The brutality meted out to my father which eventually led to his death was unwarranted. I wonder why they threw caution to the wind and pounced on an unarmed civilian in such a manner.
“He always says ‘try and avoid them, because they are troublesome and dangerous. They can go to any length to get what they want. Whenever they stop you, give to them whatever they demand for.”
The deceased’s elder brother, Ademola, said Adewale was an easy-going man.
He said, “He was a pillar of support for many members of the family. It’s very unfortunate that his life was cut short abruptly in such a wicked manner. He was not a trouble maker.”
Adewale’s wife, Adedoyinsola, who spoke with our correspondent, said the soldiers had taken away her joy.
She said, “My husband’s death is a big blow. He toiled day and night and now that he should be eating the fruits of his long years of labour, the soldiers took away his life for no just cause.
“This is an irreparable loss. The Nigerian Army authorities must not cover up the perpetrators of this wicked act. They should be fished out and they should allow justice to prevail.”
However, the deceased’s driver, Aduragbemi Soneye, said he could identify the soldier who led the attack.
He said, “My boss, myself and two of the soldiers that led the onslaught against him (Adewale) went to replace the mirror of the vehicle on July 16. My boss pointed the ring leader to me. I can identify him and one other if they are brought before me.”
In a petition written by Adedotun on behalf of the family and addressed to the Special Investigation Bureau of the Nigerian Army, Arakan Barracks, Apapa, Lagos, the family demanded that the army authorities should investigate the incident.
The petition dated August 2 and titled, ‘Death of Adewale Olupitan-Hazzan’ reads in part, “From the result of the X-ray examinations and death certificate as well as the chain of events, it is obvious that the deceased who had no history of a terminal ailment died from the beating of the soldiers.
“In this circumstance, we, the family members of the deceased, are crying out for justice. We demand that the matter be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to book.”
When contacted on the phone, the spokesperson for the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Kayode Ogunsanya, said he was not aware of the incident.
“I am not aware of it. I would have to contact the Special Investigation Bureau of the Nigerian Army to get the details of the incident,” he said.
-Culled from punch