Clearly, there is more than meet the eyes to last Thursday’ brouhaha at the Kayriott Hotel and Suites, Effurun, near Warri, Delta State, where a team of naval personnel reportedly invaded the guesthouse, brutalized hotel officials, disarmed and abducted two policemen on guard duty in the hotel following a heated disagreement with a waitress, Rachel Usen, over supposed non payment of N8,500 charges for food and drinks guzzled by a naval officer and his friends.
What has become apparent from the crossfire between naval and police authorities in the state since the incident is that that there is no love lost between the two security agencies. The verbal exchange between the Commissioner of Police, Delta State, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba and Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Delta, Commodore Mohammed Garba, is a pointer to the state of affairs.
How Navy invaded Kayriott hotel
Narrating what happened, proprietor of the hotel, Hon. Efe Afe, a former member of the Delta State House of Assembly, in a petition to the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibril, dated February 3, said, “One Navy Lieutenant Akalezie Uche attached to the Nigerian Navy, NNS Delta in Warri, Delta State, in company of a female friend and another young man visited the aforementioned hotel and was attended to at the hotel’s pool bar by a waitress named Rachael Usen.”
Delta State based human rights activist and lawyer, Oghenejabor Ikimi, who was briefed by the ex-lawmaker stated,”The waitress at the end of the stay of the above trio demanded payment of the sum of N8,500.00 (Eight thousand, five hundred naira) for the food, drinks and ice cream which the said lieutenant and his friends had ordered and consumed, but the lieutenant claimed that he had already paid for same to the consternation of the waitress who insisted that she had not been paid a dime.”
Ikimi, also the coordinator of the Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defense, FJHD, Warri, said following altercation with the mobile police guard at the hotel who tried to apprehend the trio for non settlement of their bill, Lt. Akalezie allegedly alerted colleagues from the NNS Delta naval base who stormed the hotel.
We committed no evil – Navy boss
NNS Delta in response, Monday, however, said its men neither brutalized and kidnapped police officers or any hotel staff, saying to the contrary, that the naval officer was beaten up by policemen even after he identified himself.
Commanding Officer, NNS Delta, Commodore Garba Mohammed, said at no time did its personnel shoot, assault and abduct three staff of Kayriott Hotel, adding, “the incident that happened at Kayriott Hotel is still under investigation and was a case of assaulting a commissioned naval officer which necessitated admission the hospital.”
He said the hotel staff, including the general manager, Mr. Tony Oguns, were invited to write statements on the incident voluntarily and allowed to return to their business afterwards, while the navy “returned to the hotel as further investigation by demanding recording of the CCTV footage of the unfortunate incident which the hotel management misconstrued.”
Police beat up naval officer – Spokesperson
NNS Delta Public Relations Officer, Lt C.I.D Yohana, added another twist when he maintained in a chat with Vanguard that the policemen, indeed, manhandled the navy officer and emailed some photographs, which he said showed how the said navy officer was brutalized. According to him, the navy officer who managed to appear at the press briefing, Monday, had returned to the hospital for medical attention as his ear was dripping blood.
Police chief, Aduba flares up
If anybody was flattered by the explanation of the navy on the matter, it is not the Commisioner of Police, Mr. Aduba. He was, to say the least, nauseated by the “feeble attempt” put up by his naval counterpart to exonerate his men from the “show of shame”.
Aduba described the navy’s defence of the scandalous episode as the “height of falsehood,”noting “the simple fact which is well corroborated by evidence of eye witnesses is that the two policemen on guard duty at the hotel, fully dressed in service uniform, were over-powered by the naval personnel who stormed the premises of the hotel in a commando-like manner; disarmed the police personnel, battered them to stupor, before abducting them together with some officials of the hotel to the Naval Base.
“From the investigation so far conducted, the bone of contention behind this unholy act and a seemingly recurring decimal of occurrence between the navy and the police in the state is the payment of N9,000 for pepper soup and alcoholic beverages consumed by the man who was later identified as a naval officer and two of his friends at the hotel. An argument ensued between the said naval officer on civil outfit and the hotel receptionist over the nonpayment of the said N9,000 for services delivered, in the course of which the naval officer slapped the receptionist causing her ears to ooze blood.”
Irritating cover up: He said the news of the incident was received by the Police Command in the course of the Command’s end of the month officers’ meeting at Asaba and he quickly got in touch with the Commanding Officer of NNS Delta, who regrettably attempted to put up a defense to the effect that his personnel was fired at by the police personnel on duty at the hotel which would have been fatal, but for the bullet proof jacket being donned by the naval officer.
Aduba who told Vanguard the defence was completely at variance with the facts of the case as adumbrated above, said, “The battered police personnel as at the time of filing this report is still lying critically sick and unconscious at the hospital.”
Act of lawlessness
His words, “We want to state clearly that the Police Force still remains the symbol of government and no profession has the act of lawlessness as part of its ethics, hence we strongly submit that the act of carrying two Hilux load of naval personnel – not for the purpose of storming/fighting our common enemies – the criminals, but rather for the purpose of overpowering fellow uniformed security personnel on legitimate duty which has occurred several times in Delta State will certainly not augor well for the good governance of our country which is the primary purpose of government.”
Navy should surrender erring officer
“In the light of the foregoing, we want to state clearly, that the actions of the naval officer hinges on the realm of criminality and the only option left to the naval authority is to hand over the erring naval officer to the police for investigation and prosecution,” he said.