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3 Hospitalised As Soldiers Brutalize Youth Corpers In Rivers State!


At least three members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in Rivers State are reeling in pains after being brutally wounded by soldiers believed to be attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Rivers State.
Street Journal’s findings revealed that as part of the activities marking the end of the service year for concerned youth corps members in the Omoku axis, the Local Inspector of the NYSC in the area, Mr Adams had organised a send forth party for the Batch B corpers and Street Journal gathered that the event was well attended. Not quite an hour after the party however, not less than three of the youth corpers that had gone to celebrate were patients in hospital wards following severe beatings and stab wounds allegedly inflicted on them by armed soldiers.
Narrating his ordeal, Mobolaji Abawa, who Doctors say is lucky to be alive disclosed that “after the party, youth corpers from the same area with me gathered in a group because it was late and about six of us from the same place of primary assignment stayed together in order to ensure that we would all move in the same vehicle. Just as I was trying to negotiate with a bus driver, I noticed that there was what sounded like an argument behind me.
The argument was between a man who alighted from his car and a youth corper. I could hear the man asking do you know who I am? When the corper replied that he didn’t know who the man was, he introduced himself as the JTF (Joint Task Force) Commander. And before we knew what was happening the man went back to his car and brought out a knife with which he was going to stab the corper that was arguing with him. We all started begging him not to stab the guy. To prevent the man from stabbing the guy, some corpers had to hold him while others begged and apologised for whatever wrong the guy might have done. All the plea and apology however seemed to fall on deaf ears. He kept saying that he would deal with the corper. After a while, one of the corpers said they should leave him. He said he should be left to do whatever he wanted to do. Again the man was enraged and he promised to deal with the corper that spoke. He left the person he originally wanted to stab and went for the other corper because of his utterances.
I noticed there was a lady in the vehicle and I approached the car and appealed to the lady to come and help us beg the man and probably calm his down. The lady however did not give a positive response so I left her and moved to where my colleagues were.
The man went back to his car and came back with something that looked like an iron rod.
When we saw that he had another weapon, everyone moved back and as we tried to run to avoid being hit, there was a corper that had his back turned to where the man was coming from. He used the rod to hit the guy on the head and the impact was so much that the guy fell instantly and was motionless. When I saw that the guy was not moving, I turned again and started running. My intention was to go and call the L.I because I remember he told us that he invited some men of the JTF for security.
I had to stop when I heard voices behind me saying stop, stop or I will shoot. I stopped because I did not commit any offence. I Before I could say anything, I had been grabbed by two soldiers. They said you are attacking soldiers abi? I said I did not attack a soldier , I said why would I attack a soldier when my father is a soldier? But they wouldn’t listen.”
JTF OmokuAbawa disclosed that he was dragged and kicked by the soldiers, he continued, “one of them even cocked his gun. By that time, I was already on the floor. They started using the butt of their guns to hit me. They brought out knives and started stabbing me. I was stabbed on the chest, on my lap and one of the fingers on my left hand was badly cut.
At least four of us were beaten.”
Speaking further, Abawa who still wore plasters said “when I was rushed to the hospital, I was told that the Doctors did not want to accept me because they felt my heart or some other organ might have been affected by the stab wounds. When I got a little better, they told me the knife was just a centimetre or two away from my heart and that my lung too could have been punctured by the stab. The Doctors were so happy for me. ”
When asked if the matter was reported to the police, Bolaji said it was. He also pointed out that a policeman came to the hospital to take his statement. “But because of the bad shape I was in then, the statement could not be taken.”
And what was the NYSC doing about it? Was the L.Í who hosted the send forth party aware of the incident? Bolaji’s response was that “someone who said he was sent by the State Coordinator visited me in the hospital and all he said was that I was lucky things did not turn out worse. He said I should forward my medical expenses so that whatever I might have spent would be refunded.”
Yusuf, a Batch B corp member who just passed out was also hospitalised as a result of the injuries sustained disclosed to Street Journal that the incident happened in front of Fancrid Hotel, the venue of the send forth party, opposite Royal Fortress in Omoku. “We were in front of the hotel around 11.30 pm waiting for a vehicle to convey us back to where we were living. I think I was standing close to the road, a vehicle came out of the hotel where we had the party and almost knocked me down, so I hit the body of the vehicle. The man that drove the vehicle came out and asked why I hit his vehicle. I said sir, you almost ran me down now and the next question he asked was do you know who I am? I said no sir, but the fact is that you almost hit me with your car. Then he introduced himself as the Commander of the JTF in Omoku.” Yusuf said he felt a bit relieved when another corper told him that the man was a Yoruba man. “Then Bolaji came and we started pleading with him in Yoruba that he should not be annoyed. We were saying ah, egbon, e ma binu, (brother, don’t be annoyed) we were appealing to him.”
JTF Omoku 1According to Yusuf, the matter became worse when a Batch B corp member who saw how it happened came and challenged the man, “maybe he said why were we begging him or so. The man got angry and wanted to attack the corper but the guy ran. The man just called some of his colleagues and they started beating us. Bolaji and I were the worst hit. They used everything they had on us. I almost went blind as a result of the pepper spray they used on my eyes. They stabbed my legs. It’s a horrible experience.” When asked if the L.I was aware, Yusuf said “yes, he even came with a man that he said was a police officer  to take statements from us. He told us the matter had been reported to the police.”
When Street Journal called Mr Adams, he declined to answer questions about the incident. When asked if he was aware some corpers were brutalized by soldiers, he said “honestly, this matter should be directed to the office.” When the question was repeated, he said “what is the name of the corp member? Who reported the incident to you?” The line went off after and efforts to get him on the phone afterwards proved futile.
The PRO of the Rivers State Police Command could also not be reached for comments.

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