Naval authorities torture ex-officer to a coma

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A former naval officer, Lucky Nyeke, has been tortured to a coma by naval authorities at the Nigerian Naval Training Command, Harbor Road, Apapa, Lagos State.

Lucky, who was based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was reportedly arrested at his home and brought to Lagos by some naval ratings, who refused to disclose his offence to his family members.

The 33-year-old was allegedly transferred to the police for investigation on terrorism allegations.

He was said to have been cleared by the police after weeks of interrogation.

But the naval authorities were said to have kept him in detention, deprived him of food and tortured him till he passed out and was rushed to a hospital where he eventually recuperated.

PUNCH Metro had reported that Lucky, who was attached to the Naval Special Boat Services Camp, Ojo, was first detained in March 2015 for alleged possession of firearms.

A special court was said to have sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment, but he was not released at the expiration of the term of the punishment.

After PUNCH Metro reported the case in January 2016, the Ahoada-West, Rivers State indigene, was released from detention and dismissed from service.

It was learnt that the victim approached the Femi Falana Chambers, which sued the naval authorities for extending his terms of punishment as recommended by the court martial which tried him.

A Lagos court was said to have awarded N10m damages against the naval authorities for infringing on his rights.

However, a few weeks to verdict, the Flag Officer Commanding, Naval Training Command, Harbor Road, Apapa, Lagos State, Rear Admiral Ifeola Mohammed, allegedly ordered some naval ratings to arrest Lucky at his Port Harcourt home.

His counsel, Chukwuma Onwuemene of the Femi Falana Chambers, in a letter addressed to the FOC, accused the Nigerian Navy of persecuting Lucky and called for his immediate release.

The letter, dated May 24, 2017, also copied the Chief of Naval Staff.

He said, “His fundamental rights were breached by the extension of the term sanctioned by the court martial due to ineffectiveness and administrative bureaucracy which was never his making, hence he brought an application to enforce his rights.

“The honourable court decided the case filed by our client in his favour and awarded the sum of N10m as compensation for the violation of his fundamental rights to his liberty and dignity of his person.

“Sometime in February, 2017, before the judgment was given, the Flag Officer Commanding, Naval Training Command, Harbor Road, Apapa, Lagos State, sent some naval ratings to arrest our client in Port Harcourt and brought him to Lagos where he was handed over to the Lagos State Police Command Anti-Terrorism Criminal Investigation Department Annex, Surulere, for investigation on the allegation that he conspired with some naval ratings to steal arms at the Naval Arms Store, Apapa, sometime in December, 2016.

“At the end of the investigation after more than two months, he was exonerated as no prima facie case was established against him. Thereafter, the fact of his exoneration was communicated to the Naval Command, Apapa, but the Flag Officer Commanding said he was not satisfied with the investigation.”

He said Mohammed moved Lucky to his command and kept him in solitary confinement, adding that the victim was subjected to different inhuman treatment, including torture.

“He has since May 18, 2017, been subjected to daily dose of torture, brutality, illegal incarceration and dehumanising treatment. He is kept incommunicado; his solicitors and family members have been denied access to him.

“He collapsed from severe torture, brutalisation and starvation sometime last week and was rushed to the Randle General Hospital, Surulere, Lagos, where after revival, he was referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, due to the severity of his condition of health caused by the maltreatment and torture.

“On May 26, he was moved to an unknown destination somewhere in Abuja or in the northern part of Nigeria by the Flag Officer Commanding.  His oppressors have refused to adhere to the rule of law on the alleged crime against him as required by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.”

The counsel said if the victim was not released within seven days of the receipt of the letter, a legal action would be instituted against the authorities.

PUNCH Metro gathered that Lucky was arrested for making a call to a serving officer at the naval command during the period when the arms went missing.

His wife, Sonia, lamented that she had been suffering with her children due to the harassment of her husband, urging the authorities to charge him to court if they had anything against him.

She said, “I was not around when he was arrested in Port Harcourt where we live. They took him to Lagos and it was once he spoke with me. They didn’t allow his lawyer to talk to him and they didn’t allow me to talk to him. They didn’t release him even after the police cleared him. The navy said he was a South-South man and he must know something about their stolen arms. We have written several letters to them without any response. I know my husband. He will never be involved in any shady deals.”

The naval authorities were said to have refused all forms of communication with the family and lawyer.

The Navy Director of Information, Captain Suleman Dahun, said he was not aware of the development.

He requested a detailed text message on the allegations, promising to react after being briefed by the FOC.

He had yet to get back to our correspondent as of press time.