Lawyer denies alleged assault by Soldiers, refutes newspaper publication
By Godwin Utuedoye/ Abirhire Thomas
Barr Sonny Ikwe, the alleged victim of alleged soldiers’ brutality on March 9, 2017 at Okpara Water side has refuted the report credited to some national dailies saying he never authorized such publication.
A human rights activist, Barr Maxwel Ogedengbe had indicted the Nigeria Army of an alleged assault and brutality on one Barr Sonny Ikwem who was reportedly beaten to pulp by some men of the Nigeria Army at Okpara Water side in Ethiope East LGA of Delta State.
But fielding questions from journalists at the headquarters of the 222 Battalion, Nigerian Army Agbarho-Otor on Monday 20, 2017 the alleged victim regretted the damage the publication must have caused the Nigerian Army as the issue was exaggerated beyond the facts.
He maintained that though Barr. Maxwell Ogedengbe is his professional colleague, but he never consented to the publication as he Barr. Sonny Ikwe did not present him with all the facts before going to press.
Asked what exactly transpired between him and the soldiers, Barr. Ikwe said it was a minor issue as the said soldiers were his kinsmen with whom he had a misunderstanding but the issue was resolved amicably and wondered why his learned colleague whom he only briefed on the matter went ahead to post the incident on the social media and published in two national dailies.
It was however gathered that Barr. Sonny Ikwe on the said March 9, 2017 had visited a beer parlour at Okpara-Waterside and in the process had an argument with two girls, Oghenegare Doris and Sandra Omonoje which later degenerated to a scuffle between the said Barrister and the girls.
Our findings revealed that angered by the utterances of the girls, Barr. Ikwe allegedly attempted forcing the girls into his car. This according to our source drew the attention of the soldiers who were said to be indigenes of the community to interfere.
Irked by the publications, the authority of the Nigerian Army through the office of the Chief of Army Staff drafted a team of senior military intelligence officers led by Captain Abnar S. and Captain EK Effiong of 16 Brigade, Operation Delta Safe, JTF Yenagoa to investigate the allegation, bring to book and punished any of the soldiers found wanting. But according to available facts, their findings showed that the publication was false and unfounded as the author of the publication was not thoroughly briefed.
Barr. Maxwell Ogedengbe who also accompanied the alleged beaten lawyer to the headquarters of the 222 Battalion in Agbarha-Otor, when asked if he verified his facts from the military authority before his publications said; “lawyers do not investigate cases as it was not their duty to do so” hence he used the available facts revealed to him by the victim for a brief he posted on human rights conference portal and same was sent to two national dailies, the Vanguard and Punch newspapers respectively.
He further stated that his inability to get through to Barr. Sonny Ikwe after receiving the first call of hopelessness from him prompted him to do the publication but said he has realized that investigation was inconclusive before he went to the press.
Although there was a mild drama at this point as Barr. Sonny Ikwe in the presence of newsmen and others present denied consenting to the publication and authorizing the human right activist to do so.
As at the time of filing in this report, it could not be ascertained if the military will sue for libel or allow the sleeping dog to lie.