By Ovie Okpare & Onome Oghenetega
A consultant physician at the Central Hospital in Warri, Delta State, Dr. Raphael Onyemekehia, who was allegedly forced by soldiers attached to 3 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Effurun, to swim inside gutter has recounted how he was molested.
The senior medical doctor alleged that the soldiers who took turn to beat him, kept him inside the mosquitos and germs infected water for over 45 minutes until a senior military officer rescued him.
Onyemekehia recounted his ordeal to NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online exclusively on Sunday.
A team of military personnel had on Saturday reportedly assaulted the medical doctor and by forced him to swim inside a pool of dirty water along the Effurun-Warri Road at Effurun in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state.
It was gathered that the soldiers forced the doctor to swim and bathe inside the murky water at gunpoint while heading for work.
The incident generated public outrage with the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association threatening to down tools over the development.
But speaking with a team of NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online, Dr. nyemekehia who is still obviously devasted with the incident, alleged that an unidentified major gave the order for him to sit and bathe with the dirty water.
According to him, he had roll inside the ‘gutter’ water for over 45 minutes at the mercy of the soldiers.
He narrated that he was heading to work being an essential worker on that fateful day when the military personnel numbering over five stopped him and ordered him to sit on the muddy water after identifying himself with a valid identity card.
Onyemekehia noted that he was still in pains from bruises he sustained from the torture.
“I was on official duty heading to work when the incident happened. Immediately I got to Airport Junction, a group of army officers stopped me and I parked, I lowered my car window to show them my ID card but they refused and asked me to come down.
“I told them that I am a doctor they refused that the Governor Okowa had instructed that nobody should move whether you are a doctor or not. They seized my car keys and said I should sit in the muddy water which I did, they said I should lay down and roll like someone who is swimming in the water.
“They used woods to hit me, they were four or five persons. The one giving the command for me to be beaten said he is a Major. They took turns in beating me severally”, Onyemekehia, in an emotional voice recounted.
He said help, however, came his way when he saw his longtime journalist and staff of the Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS), Mr. Linus Chima, who identified him to the soldiers as a doctor until a senior officer ran into the unfortunate incident and rescued him.
According to him, “I summoned boldness with the little energy I had left I saw Linus Chima of Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) passing by maybe he was on official duties also. I shouted his name despite the fact I was asked not talked, because I had already made up my mind that if they want to shoot me they should go ahead.
“Chima came and identified me. He was shocked. While we were still talking, the sector commander drove in and Chima went to him and made a report.
“The sector commander identified himself as Colonel Ahmed released me. That was how I became free from the humiliation. It was pathetic. I was in the water for over 45minutes. Currently I am in pains and my leg is swollen.”
Onyemekehia said although the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, directed the Secretary to the State Government and the Commissioner for Health to contact him on the incident, he demanded for justice and disciplinary action to be taken against the officers involved in his maltreatment.
“The Commissioner for Health has called. Also, the sector commander to apologized to me but I told them the matter was no longer in my hands rather its being handled by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA)”, the senior medical doctor added.
The state chairman of NMA, Dr. Emmanuel Nwose, had while confirming the assault on his member to NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online on Saturday, threatened that doctors in the state would down tools if nothing was done about the incident.
Nwose, while condemning the assault, demanded that the perpetrators of the ugly act must be fish out and prosecuted by the military authorities to serve as a warning to overzealous military personnel.
The medium, however, learnt on Sunday that Nigerian Army has waded into the incident as military authorities were already discussing with the state leadership of the NMA on the issue.