By Jonathan Ugbal
More details are emerging from the May 24, 2020 raid of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Victory personnel on Potomas Hotel in Atimbo, Akpabuyo local government area as a witness, Mr. Godwin Ibok has claimed that they were tortured mercilessly.
Narrating his ordeal to CrossRiverWatch, Mr. Ibok said that the action which took over an hour saw probably hundreds if not thousands of rounds discharged by the dozens of naval personnel who came and “packed us, squeezed us into van like ice fish.”
According to him, the destruction of property that unfolded before him was unprecedented as each naval personnel within his eye line discharged over 30 rounds of ammunition.
“I went to relax and take a bottle of beer, just a bottle of beer and then they (Navy personnel) came. It was not even up to 20 minutes (I arrived) there that the people came, raided the place; gunmen, wearing black and camouflage. They did not identify, they didn’t even announce that they are Navy officers on an operation like this. They just said everybody should lie down, everybody should lie down, shooting randomly. I have never seen that kind of shooting in my whole life,” Ibok said.
He continued: “Everybody, both male female, everybody, the DJ who was playing was asked to come down; they started flogging people mercilessly, flogging, serious flogging with whips and the people who did not want to lie down, they carried the chairs that they were sitting and smash it on you; very rough thing. They then entered the hotel and brought out the people that were lodging outside and joined us. Then, they went to the club side, destroyed all the light, brought out the people that were there, flogged them.
“They now brought out the owner of the place, Oto. And I thought to myself, if the owner of the place is been treated like this, what happens to us. There was no room for anybody to ask any question. When they took all of us outside, they now separated some people. They took the girls and released them. They released all the women that were there and they now carried all the men.”
CrossRiverWatch had reported that the owner of the facility, Mr. Otoobong Peter has filed a suit seeking over NGN500 million in compensation from the five respondents which include the Nigerian Navy; the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command; the Commander, NNS Victory; Navy Captain Ibrahim Gwaska and Lieutenant Commander B. M Atagher.
A pregnant woman (name withheld) who was also caught in the web of the raid is said to have died due to complications arising from the beatings she received during the raid. And, when asked about the pregnant woman, he said “yes, they took her husband. They flogged the woman mercilessly.” When asked if he was aware the lady in question has died, he said: “I don’t really know the woman. I have not seen her since that time.”
Ibok said they were taken to the NNS Victory base where according to him, the Naval personnel, “subjected us to sitting down under the rain from 10 O’clock till 5:00AM in the morning under rain for nothing.”
Also, he said: “We tried to ask what our crime was, is it this lockdown order? We were asking so many questions but nobody answered us. After that, they pushed us to one hall there, they put us in the hall, everybody all of us. Then, they brought van, divided some people and took them to 13 Brigade, dividing some and took them elsewhere.
“Me basically, I was left there. Some of us were left there about thirty something of us. From there, after about three days, after enough argument, they now called the Police, handed us over to the police. That is where we spent another five or so days before we were released.”
When pressed further, He disclosed that he was detained at the Anti Cultism and Kidnapping squad unit of the Cross River Police Command located at the Cultural Center complex in Calabar.
When asked if he was charged to court, he said no and explaining how he regained his freedom, he averred that: “Some money was collected from all of us, fifty thousand Naira (NGN50,000). They now labelled us as cultists, kidnappers and what have you. They told us that was the report that the Navy gave to them. They were not the ones that arrested us, the Navy did and said we were militants, cultists and whatever.”
Furthermore, he disclosed that; “Even some young guys, these okada riders (commercial motorcyclists) that use to park around that Potomas bar to look for passengers, anybody that is coming out, they just carried everybody. They packed people from outside and brought inside.”
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