From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Pastor Olumuyiwa Abolade Adedeji. Remember him? He is the physically challenged man that was allegedly assaulted in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, by a female soldier, Corporal Hanatu Mamman.
The alleged assault occurred on Thursday December 3, last year, following an incident that occurred at Oke-Itunu, Mokola, Ibadan, a day earlier.
The news went viral on the social media, even as some newspapers as well as broadcast stations also gave the incident wide publicity. Many people condemned the action of the female soldier, while some people also called for caution until the true details of the incident had been established from both parties.
A legal practitioner, Mr. Boluwatife Sanya, on behalf of Adedeji, petitioned the General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Ibadan, to formally lodge complaints to the military authorities on the incident.
A month after the incident, people have not stopped asking questions. They want to know what the military did to sanction the female soldier and if Adedeji had been compensated or not. Some wanted to know if the soldier had any blame at all.
On the other hand, some people have been contending that Adedeji was economical with the truth. They accused him of deliberately distorting information on what fully transpired so that he could win the sympathy of Nigerians.
In a bid to establish the truth, the reporter made efforts to speak with all the parties involved in the incident. The reporter met with the alleged victim and some representatives of JOSABIG School, as well as some traders in the area. They spoke separately and extensively with Daily Sun.
How it happened, by victim
In an encounter with the reporter, 43-year-old Adedeji narrated: “The incident occurred in front of JOSABIG Nursery and Primary School, which is between Okoro and Oke-Itunu, Mokola, Ibadan, on December 2 and 3, 2020.
“It started around 7.30am on December 2. I was driving along the road. Suddenly, a four-year-old boy, later identified as Deliverance Mamman, strayed to the front of my car. I applied the brakes suddenly. Luckily, there was no contact.
“Then, I parked, alighted and challenged a young man that I saw holding two pupils. I thought the four-year-old boy slipped from his hands. But he said he did not know the boy. Then, I challenged the staff of the school and I demanded to see the boy’s mother on why she would leave a four-year-old boy to walk to school by himself.
“Some staff of the school said if I met the boy’s mother, what would I do? I insisted I must see her. Then, I slightly tapped the boy’s cheek that he should not stray to the front of any moving car again. I entered my car and drove off.”
Adedeji said on the second day, December 3, he drove along the road again and when he approached JOSABIG School, a woman jumped to the middle of the road, asking him to park.
“I parked and I came down, using my crutches to walk. Immediately I saw her, something within me told me she was the mother of the boy. Then, I said: ‘Are you the mother of the boy that strayed to the front of my car yesterday?’ She approached me and started beating me. She was joined by another woman and they both beat me up. A security guard of the JOSABIG School also stood behind me and also joined to beat me.
“I was angry and I said they could not just assault me like that, and that I would come back. I told the security man that I would send him to jail. Perhaps, they thought that I went to bring the police when I drove off. In the process of beating me, they broke the callipers of my crutches.
“When I was coming back, another person drove the car and as I approached the school, the boy’s mother, who had now put on military camouflage, jumped on the road again, and stopped me. Before we stopped, I told my daughter, sitting at the back of the car to record what would happen.
“When we stopped, I made attempt to get out of the car with my crutches. The soldier walked up to me and started beating me. At that point other people wanted to join to beat me. But one of them suddenly discovered that my daughter was recording the scene with a phone. I sat back in the car and we drove off.”
Adedeji said he went to the Letmauck Cantonment of the Nigerian Army at Mokola, and he was allowed to get to the Military Police Unit, after much stress at the gate. The female soldier he met at the gate, according to him, said she knew the female soldier that assaulted him.
“I told them what happened and I said they should help me identify her. But I was told that it was not the duty of anybody to identify anybody. One of the officers then took me to the Engineering Department and asked if they knew the female soldier and they said no. They took me to other places and the soldiers there said they did not know her. I told the officer that the female soldier at the gate told me she knows her. Then, he took me to the gate and said to the female soldier: ‘You said you know this female soldier?’ The female soldier changed immediately, saying: ‘No, I don’t know her and I did not tell him I know her sir.’
“As we left the barracks, I went to the hospital for treatment. I was placed on admission. I posted the video recorded earlier at the scene of the assault on the social media on my way to the hospital. It went viral immediately. I received many calls.
“On Saturday, a soldier, Sergeant Iloha, called me from the Military Police Unit of the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army. He invited me. But I told him I was on admission. I could not come immediately. So, I went to Odogbo Cantonment the following Wednesday.
“I told them that the female soldier beat me in front of my children. She should tender public apology to me via a video clip on the social media. They agreed that she would tender the public apology on Friday.
“But on Thursday night, a senior officer said the lady soldier would be punished because she had embarrassed the Nigerian Army. He said the higher authorities were interested in the case. Since then, they have kept mute.”
Adedeji said he earned a Higher National Diploma (HND) from the Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State, in 2002, and had his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme at Evans Publishers, Ibadan, from March 2003 to February 2004. He later worked as a banker before starting his private business in 2011.
“I am also the pastor in charge of Peace and Holiness Bible Church Incorporated, Apete branch, Ibadan,” he added. “I grew up to know that I am physically challenged. I was told that the thing happened when I was two years old, caused by polio.”
When the female soldier was contacted through a source close to her, she said she could not grant any press interview on the incident without clearance from her superior officers. She said she would get back once a clearance was given. But she did not contact the reporter again to state her own side of the story.
But the source, who preferred anonymity, said the corporal even suffered a miscarriage on account of the incident and was hospitalised. He alleged that Adedeji’s crutches must have hit her in the stomach.
He’s economical with the truth – Principal, JOSABIG School
The principal of JOSABIG High School, Mr. Adio Oluwaseun, expressed gratitude to Daily Sun for being the first media organisation to visit the school to find out more details about the incident.
“I am happy that you came. I told my proprietor that we don’t have professional journalists anymore. What we have is lazy journalism. You saw a post on the social media, and you published it without getting to where the incident occurred to investigate. But with what Daily Sun has done by coming here, I have changed my mind. We still have some professional journalists in this country.
“The incident taught me a lesson that I should not just believe everything I see on the social media. The man is not saying the whole truth.
“On December 2, the four-year-old boy was coming to school from the Letmauck Barracks. He followed an older pupil. The barracks is at the back of the school. But the older pupil left him behind. We are always in front of the school every morning and at the closing hours to control traffic so that our pupils can cross the single-carriage access road.
“On the fateful day, we were already in front of the school, controlling traffic for the pupils. About some metres to the school, we suddenly saw a boy on the ground and we also saw a blue car being parked. We rushed to the place. We begged the man. Some of our female teachers also knelt down for the man, begging him not to be angry.
“We were still begging him, when he suddenly used his two palms to slap the two cheeks of the boy at the same time. At this point, we were angry. We questioned why he had to slap the boy because he is just four years old. If you are going to discipline anybody, you should discipline the mature pupil that left the boy behind.”
Oluwaseun stated that the hefty slap caused the two cheeks of the boy to swell up and he had to be treated medically.
“On December 3, the boy’s mother came to the school and waited for the man because he passes in front of our school on a daily basis. She was in mufti and she stopped the car. The man came down and started saying: ‘Are you the mother of that stupid boy that strayed to the front of my car yesterday?’ The woman warned him not to call her boy stupid again. Then, an altercation began between them.
“The man left and threatened that he would come back. This made the woman to go back to wear her uniform and she came back to the school. She thought the man had gone to bring the police, and that the policemen would not embarrass her once she was in uniform. Before long, the man was coming back, and the woman stopped his car again. The truth is that the female soldier slapped him three times. Then, she retreated and raised her hand before the car that conveyed the man zoomed off.
“But I don’t understand how three slaps would land the man in the hospital and his head would be bandaged. The woman initially did not come to fight. She said all she wanted was for the man to apologise to her son for slapping him to the extent that the boy was injured on both cheeks.
“We heard that the female soldier had a delayed childbirth and it took her many years before she gave birth to the boy. As a mother and based on what she went through before giving birth to the boy, she would want to stand for him.”
Oluwaseun also denied the allegation that a security guard of the school joined the female soldier to beat Adedeji, describing the claim as a blatant lie.
When asked to comment on what he perceived as the mistakes of the female soldier and Adedeji on the incident, he said the mistake that Adedeji made was that he slapped the four-year-old boy, even as he said the female soldier was also not patient enough.
Investigation revealed that the female soldier was detained by the military police, based on the incident. But the reporter could not confirm if she has been released.
There is no case, says Army
For one week, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 2 Division, Col. Hassan Mohammed, could not be reached on his mobile phone. He eventually picked his call at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 29, 2020. When the reporter asked him about latest developments on the case, the colonel said: “Forget about that case; forget about that case. There is no latest development.”