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Friday, July 5, 2013

Youth Corper crippled by Camp Commandant.

Youth Corper
Crippled By Camp
Commandant
(PICTURED)
Miss Mercy Okpithe joined
the Dance Troupe on the
Orientation Camp of the
National Youth Service
Corps (NYSC) in Anambra
State in November 2012.
But four months later she
was severely beaten up by
the Camp Commandant.
Captain S.O. Beke attacked
her about 11:00p.m on
Monday, March 18, this
year. She allegedly fainted
and was rushed to the
camp clinic. The following
day, she was transferred
to the Anambra State
University Teaching
Hospital, Awka. At the
hospital, she was
diagnosed with dislocation
of coccyx, a small
triangular bone at the
base of the spinal column .
The hospital further
referred her to the
National Orthopaedic
Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos,
for special attention. It
was gathered that she
might be flown abroad for
surgery.
Mercy was visited by the
correspondent in her
home at Lagos. As she lay
down on a couch in their
living room, the young
lady writhed in pains,
even as she struggled to
answer the reporter’s
questions. “When the
Batch A corps members
were in the Orientation
Camp in March, this year,
the NYSC officials invited
members of the Dance
Troupe to the camp to
teach the new corps
members how to dance.
We got to the camp in the
evening of Sunday, March
17.
“We were 15 all together:
11 boys and four girls.
The girls were not meant
to stay together in the
same room with the boys.
But we had to because
there was no vacant room.
The following morning,
the NYSC State
Coordinator gave a
directive that a separate
room should be given to
the girls. But the officials
could not find a vacant
room for us.
“So, they put us in one of
the rooms occupied by
some Batch ‘A’ female
corps members. We took
two mattresses each to
the place. There were no
bunks. So, we spread the
mattresses on the ground.
Thereafter, the other
three girls slept but I was
still awake . I was listening
to music on my phone,
using an earpiece.
“Around 11:00p.m., some
soldiers came into the
room. They were both
males and females. I felt
it was a normal thing
because they did the same
thing when I was in the
camp for orientation
exercise in November
2012. Then, I noticed that
a female soldier was
arguing with one of my
friends, Ifedayo
Fakehinde.
“Then, the female soldier
forcefully removed one of
the mattresses which she
slept on. Ifedayo sought
to know her offence and
the soldier hit her. I
quickly rose up and
caught her as she was
falling. Otherwise, she
would have hit her head
against the wall. But she
sprained her hand.
“The incident caused a
scene. Many corps
members came out and
argued with the soldiers.
As this was going on,
Ifedayo was crying. We
calmed her down. Then,
the NYSC Schedule Officer
came around. He sought
to know what happened.
As I was explaining what I
knew about the incident to
him, I heard the voice of
the Camp Commandant
telling all the corps
members to go inside.
“Before I finished my
explanation, the
commandant came and
pushed me. I sought to
know why he pushed me.
But he pushed me again. I
told him to stop pushing
me because he could not
push his sister like that.
But he continued until he
pushed me to the wall.
Then, he kicked me from
the ground and I hit the
ground with my back. I
couldn’t move. Then, I
heard other soldiers
saying ‘die, die, die’ till I
passed out.”
According to a sourse, the
Schedule Officer ran to
call the State Coordinator,
Mrs. I.B. Ekpe, when the
commandant was
purportedly beating the
corps member.
Mr. Solomon Okpithe,
Mercy’s father, said an
official of the NYSC called
him on phone in the
afternoon of Tuesday,
March 19, telling him that
Mercy was involved in an
accident and that he
should come to Awka
immediately.
The official told Mercy’s
father to come with
somebody who would stay
in the teaching hospital to
take care of Mercy. When
he got to the hospital with
his wife at about 12:30p.m
the following day, they
were shocked to hear that
she was brutalised by the
camp commandant.
Okpithe said the first
thing that came to his
mind was how to save his
daughter’s life. He sought
to see the Chief Medical
Director (CMD) of the
teaching hospital but
could not see him until
about 7:00p.m when he
came out from the
theatre.
“I asked the CMD about
my daughter’s condition,
but he said the hospital
could not handle it and he
would refer her to Enugu.
I told him that I was from
Lagos and asked if he
could refer her to any
hospital in Lagos. Then,
he said he would refer her
to Igbobi. Immediately, he
instructed the doctor that
was in charge to write the
letter .
“On Thursday morning, we
were at Igbobi. The
doctors at the hospital
tried but the sad thing is
that they told us they
could not handle it too.
They said it’s not just an
orthopaedic case but
something that has to do
with the spine . They
treated her and asked us
to take her home. Then,
they gave an
appointment,” he said.
On the next appointment
day, according to Okpithe,
the hospital said the first
option, which was the
treatment by orthopaedic
doctors, had failed. “They
said they were taking
another option now and if
it fails, the third option
would be a surgery.”
Okpithe, who has since
been responsible for his
daughter’s hospital bills ,
disclosed that Mrs. Ekpe
promised the family that
NYSC would reinburse
whatever amount spent on
the treatment, adding that
Ekpe said she had
informed the national
secretariat of NYSC in
Abuja about the
development and had also
written a letter to the
NYSC in Lagos State about
the incident.
“I have received calls from
one Mrs. Daniel from the
NYSC Office, Lagos, telling
me I should accept their
sympathy on my daughter.
But on the other hand,
Mrs Ekpe never stated the
cause of the dislocation. I
know she’s doing that to
protect the officer.”
Okpithe, an engineer,
urged the Chief of Army
Staff to ensure proper
reform of the army,
especially those in charge
of NYSC.
He also advised the
Federal Government to
provide necessary items
for corps members on the
camp. The issue of
inadequate mattresses, he
said, caused the problem.
When contacted on phone
to react to the claims,
Captain Beke neither
confirmed nor denied the
incident.

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