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ARREST OF RAPIST SOLDIERS: ANOTHER BIG PLUS FOR ONDO JOURNALISTS
BY YEMI AKINTOMIDE
Yoruba will say when a lizard fell from a very tall iroko tree, it will look left and right then nod it head ups and downs, saying ‘if nobody praises me for this big jump, I will praise myself’. This is the exact analogy of the big feat, yet again, achieved by the highly dedicated and committed practising journalists in Ondo State by breaking the news of the alleged rape of a female 300-level student of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko by five randy soldiers at a checkpoint near Ikare-Akoko.
The rape victim reportedly as a 300-level student of the Department of Religious and African Studies of the university was allegedly gang-raped by the stoned looking soldiers at a checkpoint in Ikare Akoko last Wednesday after she was forced to alight from a commercial bus, by one of the soldiers, who dragged the victim into a cubicle at the back of checkpoint, where she was allegedly assaulted sexually.
These soldiers who had been playing lords and kingkongs on motorists and commuters plying this route for couple of years now, apparently thought that their wicked and inhuman behaviour couldn’t be questioned by anybody at that very point since they have the power of gun and jackboots to deal with hardheaded and storborn rats who might want to challenge their authority and command.
That is the main reason why the general public must salute the boldness, doggedness, steadfastness, vibrancy and professionalism displayed by journalists in Ondo State who came to the rescue of the poor undergraduate young lady by given the story a detailed and wide publicity even to the army authority at the 32 Artillery Brigade under whose command the randy soldiers were posted to man the checkpoint.
Journalists in the past have suffered undue hardship, brutality and intimidation from these khaki men when engaging in their constitutionally duties, especially when it involve the military, the State Security Services, the police and other law enforcement agencies, as many journalists had been arrested, tortured and brutalised even to the point of death just because of a report or news item that seem offensive to the power that be or the security agencies.
I could recalled a story I did on a former commissioner of Police in Ondo State during the protracted legal battle between late Dr. Olusegun Agagu and former governor Dr. Olusegun Mimiko when the later challenged the electoral victory of Agagu aftermath of the 2007 Governorship Election in the State.
The police commissioner at that time, Innocent Ilozuoke was doing everything possible to favour the sitting governor against his challenger and petitioner at the Election petition tribunal by using the policemen to harass and intimidate Mimiko’s supporters and Labour Party members at the premises of the Ondo State High Court, venue of the tribunal sitting and at any given avenues and occasions.
I then did the story titled “How innocent is this Innocent?” where I chronicled the role played by the security agencies, especially the police under the command of Innocent Ilozuoke at the election petition tribunal and Mimiko legal tussle to reclaim his mandate from late Agagu. Hell was let loose by the CP as he placed me on police wanted list, dead or alive, querieing the gut I have to write such an ‘incriminating write up’ about his person and the state police command, even as one of the crime reporters that were very close friends of the command as at that time. It was the grace of God that saved me from the officer as he was transferred out of the state shortly thereafter.
Another case was the one that involved a colleague, Babatope Okeowo and some overzealous men of DSS over issue of traffic engagement with the officers in their unmarked operational vehicle and the journalist private car around the Alagbaka Government House in Akure. Okeowo was dragged on the road, brutualised and forced into the DSS vehicle and whisked away to the office of the security service like a common criminal. Victor Akinkuolie of Hope Newspaper also has a bitter story to tell about his clash with security operatives. After brutalisation and harassment, Victor was arraigned before a magistrate court in Ondo town. It took the intervention of the chairman and other prominent members of Ondo State Council of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) before he was letoff the hook. Such were the bitter stories and experienxes of journalists unpleasant encounters with security agencies in the course of their duties.
The rapist soldiers’ story was single-handedly exposed and tackled by the ever vibrant and strongminded Ondo journalists who dared all odds to report the act of wickedness of the soldiers who were supposedly been on the road to fight crime and provide adequate security for road users and the public, but turned themselves into deadly and armed tormentors.
The media deserve kudos and accolades for standing with the poor and defenceless undergraduate who would have suffered for no just course without getting justice because she is not or related to a super star, therefore, nobody was to fight or protest on hey behalf. Though, the Brigade Commander of the 32 Artillery Brigade, Owena Barrack, Akure, Brig. Gen. Zakari Abubakar has confirmed the arrest of the soldiers and said the brigade had commenced investigation into the matter, we shall prevail on the army to made open every step taking as the erred soldiers face trial and court marshal towards getting justice for our dear AAUA student at least, to mitigate the devastitating effect and traumatising action of the randy khaki men on the promising young lady.
Also, the university authority must do more than talkshow by commencing full scale investigation because the varsity owe the victim a duty and civil responsibility to protect and dignity her personality as a student of the institution.
I hope and believe that the matter of the rapist soldiers call for more outcry and protests especially from women groups and organisations than that of Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and his accuser, Busola Dakolo which the Inspector General of Police has stepped in, as I concur with the view of the amazons of the pen profession, the Nigeria Association of Women journalists, NAWOJ in Ondo who have charged the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General. Tukor Buratai to immediately dismiss the rapist soldiers who gang rape the varsity 300 level student.
According to NAWOJ chairperson, Mrs Doris Olumoko, the dismissal of the rapists will serve as a measure of flushing out bad elements from the Military like the security personnel who are supposed to protect the citizenry but turned around to be the ones sexually assaulting them. She also expressed worry over the continuous rise in cases of rape of both minors, young girls and women, urging females to always be on their guard, cry out and report any case of sexual assault and rape to allow concerned authorities take swift action.
While I sympathises with the latest rape victim and her parents, I urge the commanding officer of 32 Artillery Brigade to checkmate the activities of it officers and men assign to mount checkpoints across the state, including but not limit to the points at Owena, Owo/Ikare, Ondo/Ore roads and the one at Irele junction along Ore/Okitipupa road.
And to all my colleagues that make this happen, I salute your courage, boldness, commitment, resilience, solidarity and professionalism in discharging your constitutionality responsibility and role as the forth estate of the realm. Let not relenting in our role as defender of the defenceless and hope giver to the poor masses. Kudos to you guys. Let do it again and again.
Yemi Akintomide wrote from Ireakari Estate, Orita-Obele, Akure