Having served in the Nigeria Police Force for about 30 years, the plan of ASP Emmanuel Mbilla was to retire in 2018 after which he would set up his own private security firm.
However, Emmanuel’s dream was cut short on February 22, 2014 after a life-changing encounter with a naval rating, Warrant officer Unaji Enejor, in the Kirikiri area of Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the 50-year-old victim was attacked in the eye by the naval rating, causing him to lose his sight completely.
It was learnt that prior to the attack, Emmanuel’s left eye had already been damaged by Glaucoma.
The victim’s landlady, Mrs. Olasumbo Agunbiade, who witnessed the incident, told our correspondent that trouble started after Enejor drove recklessly and rammed into Emmanuel’s wife’s shop.
She said, “I am the landlady of the property at 25, Agunbiade Street, Kirikiri Town, Apapa. Emmanuel’s wife, Caroline, sells drinks right in front of the house. Around 3.30pm on February 22, Emmanuel and his wife were seated in front of the shop when a man in a red Honda car rammed into their shop.
“When Emmanuel accosted the driver, the man alighted from the vehicle and identified himself as a navy man and Emmanuel in turn, identified himself as a police officer. The man wanted to leave but Emmanuel told him that he could not leave without at least apologising and the navy man just used his car key to poke Emmanuel in the eye.
“Emmanuel fell to the floor and started screaming, ‘I have lost my sight’. When the navy man saw the severity of the injury he had inflicted on Emmanuel, he jumped into his car and sped off. However, as residents were chasing him, he drove into a gutter and we arrested him.”
Our correspondent learnt that as residents were attempting to take Enejor to the Kirikiri Police Station, two of his colleagues on a motorcycle, arrived the scene and started beating the residents in a bid to rescue their colleague.
It was learnt that a few minutes later, the crowd was able to overwhelm the navy men and the suspect was taken to the Kirikiri Police Division but was later released.
However, there was no respite for Emmanuel who was taken to about four hospitals where he was told that he may never see again.
A medical report issued by the Eye Foundation Hospital and signed by Dr. Olufemi Oderinlo, the Consultant Opthalmic surgeon/Vitereoretinal specialist on March 3, stated that the victim would need to be flown abroad for treatment for any hope of regaining his sight.
The report read in part, “At his (Emmanuel’s) first visit, visual acuity in the right eye was light perception with poor projection and no perception of light in the left eye. Examination of the ocular adnexae revealed severe lid oedema, moderate ptosis, severe sub-conjuctiva haemorrhage and chemosis with sustured multiple scleral lacerations.
“Anterior segment examination revealed a deep anterior chamber found with air, sutured cornea laceration and hyphema in the right eye.
“The prognosis for vision following retina attachment surgery was adjudged very poor and he was advised accordingly. He desires to seek a second opinion abroad.”
The victim’s older wife, Patience, told PUNCH Metro that life had been hard since her husband went blind.
Patience said her husband, who is attached to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, required 24-hour monitoring and this had affected the family.
She called on well-meaning Nigerians and the government to come to their aid.
She said, “I am asking Nigerians, the government, and especially that of Abia State to come to our aid. We are asking Senator Uche Chukwumerije, who represents Abia-North, to help us. We have been seriously affected and we have spent so much on my husband’s treatment. Also, we are demanding for justice for my husband.
“The Commissioner of Police is aware of the matter. Nobody is above the law. My husband did not fight the navy man but is now completely blind as a result of a savage and brutal yet unprovoked attack. Unfortunately, he was released while my husband was still in the hospital.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the assailant, who works at the Obisesan Naval Medical Centre as a radiographer, was released following a request letter signed by Captain J.N. Manman for the Beecroft Naval Base, Apapa.
In a request letter dated February 26, the navy requested that the errant rating be released as the matter was an “internal affair”.
Meanwhile, our correspondent learnt that the police had concluded investigations into the matter and sent the case file to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
The DPP, in its report, stated that Enejor, with number M4351, had a case to answer. However, the naval authorities have yet to hand him over to the police.
When contacted, the Information Officer, Western Naval Command, Lt. Commander, Abdulsalam Sani, said investigations into the matter had commenced.
He said, “A report was made by the Nigeria Police in February and a board of inquiry was set up to make its findings on the matter and the culpability of the person. If the person is culpable, he will be tried and an appropriate punishment will be given to him.”