In a grave, broken voice, Orji, a mother of three, said she thought she was going to die the night she was flogged like a hapless animal by military officials attached to 174 Battalion, Ikorodu, Lagos.
She told Punch on Saturday
“I still remember all that happened that day; my two brothers and I had attended a birthday party at a hotel, Sheriff Hotel, along Sagamu Road, Ikorodu. Apparently, a fight had broken out in the neighbourhood which we knew nothing about; there were policemen around – I believe to calm the situation. It was about 8:30pm at night; my brothers and I had packed our vehicle outside the hotel. On getting to the gate of the hotel, we asked the gateman to kindly open the gate so we could leave. Just as he opened, a military officer approached us and began to flog my brother and other persons waiting at the gate. I pleaded with him to stop flogging while explaining to him that we were innocent and knew nothing about the fight that broke out. Then he slapped me on the face; I was shocked. I asked him why he slapped me and he slapped me again on the face.’’
“I told him that on Monday (the following day), I would be at his barracks to report his action. Then another military official dragged me from my brothers and pushed me into one of the two patrol vans parked. One of my brothers succeeded in escaping. I and my brother, together with other persons, were taken to their barracks. That was the beginning of my sorrow. I was flogged mercilessly by three soldiers. I kept pleading with them to have mercy on me. I begged and begged for forgiveness but they turned a deaf ear to my cries. I can still feel the strike of each stick and belt used to beat me. They used their belts to flog me for an hour. I’m in serious pains.
“They also lied against me. The military officials said I told the officer who slapped me that I was going to ensure his removal from the military; but I never said that. There were policemen at the scene, if I had committed any offence, the military officials should have taken me to them rather than slap me. In fact, at the barracks, I almost died from the lashes I received.”
Aside the severe lashes, Orji said her phone, slippers and jewelry were seized from her.
“I’m sure I may have passed out that night because the next thing I remember after the flogging was that I was on a hospital bed. When I inquired from the medical officers where I was, they said it was a military hospital in 174 Battalion. On Tuesday, the following day, I was able call my family members on phone to inform them about my whereabouts,” she said.
“I’ve not seen my children since Sunday, March 12. My children are very young; aged 9, 6 and 4. I can only imagine what they are passing through. My children don’t even know where I am. We have never been apart for this long. I pleaded with the military doctor and other officials to allow me see my children but they said no. I see myself as a single mother, my children need me. They should please allow me to see my children,” she pleaded