The Nigerian Army through its counsel, Mr Bola Oyebanji, has apologised to the family of a commercial motorcyclist, Mr Abubakar Alhaji, who was allegedly beaten to death by Sgt. Taiwo Owoeye in Lagos.
Oyebanji, who tendered the army’s apology at the Presidential Panel investigating alleged human rights abuses by the Armed Forces said the culprit has been arrested and detained for murder.
He said, “The Nigerian Army has detained Sgt. Owoeye for murder, we find the matter reprehensible and condemnable.
“However, this is a single act which showed that the sergeant was on his own.
“We apologise and sympathise with the family of the deceased.”
Head of the panel, Justice Biobel Goodwill, of the Court of Appeal, also condoled with the brother of the deceased who was present at the hearing.
Goodwill after tendering the apology, told Mr Lucas Koyejo, a counsel for the National Human Rights Commission to follow up with the military trial of Owoeye to ensure that justice was done and to liaise with the victim’s family.
Alhaji’s brother, Mr Salihu Mojahid, in his testimony before the panel, shed light on the series of events leading to his brother’s death.
Mojahid said, “On Feb. 27, my brother called Abubakar Alhaji, a commercial motorcyclist, took a passenger to Maroko Roundabout beside Myhoung Barracks, Yaba, Lagos.
“He parked at the back of a vehicle and unknown to him someone was in the vehicle, the person in the vehicle reversed and bystanders shouted that a commercial motorcyclist is behind him.
“My brother knocked on the car to alert the owner that he parked behind him, the owner of the car came out and he was Sgt. Taiwo Owoeye.
“Owoeye, who was in full military uniform, slapped my brother twice and after he fell down, and he started kicking my brother several times in his stomach while he was on the ground.
“Bystanders tried apologising to him but he refused to listen to them till my brother fell unconscious.
“When my brother became unconscious, he wanted to leave and the bystanders said ‘do you not see the state of the person you have beaten up?
“Sgt. Owoeye told them ‘let him die, even if he dies, nothing will happen’.
“Fellow commercial motorcyclists and military men took him to a hospital in the barracks, he was vomiting blood till the next day.
“My brother died on Feb. 28 and the Commandant ordered the arrest of Sergeant Owoeye.”
Mojahid claimed that his brother’s corpse was not released to the family until May 25 which was four months after the incident.
“Anytime we asked the military for his corpse, they said that they needed to do an autopsy, till now we have not received an autopsy result.”