A Military officer attached to Mogadishu Barracks in Abuja, Anayo Aloysius, has acknowledged assaulted a trader at the Nyanya Market in Abuja.
According to him, the punch was not intended for the trader, Helen Akula, but rather to his friend.
The trader, however, rejected the claims of the soldier, insisting that he descended on her because she asked him to help her pick an empty bottle under a chair he sat on at a bar in the market.
Akula admonished the military authority to ensure that justice is serviced on the case as she was asserted for no reason at all.
Punch understands that the soldier, who was reported to be under the influence of alcohol, when he attached the trader, regularly visited the market and had rapport with some traders, including Akula.
He was said to have visited the bar around 5pm on Tuesday to have fun. While he was there, it was gathered that Akula walked in to pick the empty bottle of a drink she had sold to a customer.
Trouble reportedly ensued when Akula begged him to help pick the bottle under the chair to avoid invading his space. Aloysius reportedly took offence and started insulting the woman.
The 20-year-old victim, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on the telephone, said she had thought Aloysius was joking with her until he suddenly descended on her.
She said, “I sell soft drinks at a shop in Nyanya Market. The soldier comes to the market regularly. He stopped by at my shop that day. In the evening when I was about to close, I went to a shop where I sold drink to somebody to pick the bottle and collect my money.
“I met the soldier at the shop. He sat on a plastic chair and the bottle I wanted to pick was under the chair. The person that bought the drink from me sat next to him. I demanded my money from the customer and asked the soldier to please help me pick the bottle under the chair. I felt courtesy demands that I shouldn’t just invade his space to pick the bottle.
“He started insulting me, calling me a harlot and all sorts of names. I even thought he was joking with me as usual; so I was laughing. When the insult was getting too much, I told him to stop. He stood up, picked the bottle and tried to break it. Somebody then jokingly told him that he wanted to break the bottle which he did not want to pick.
“We were just joking about it. I had even diverted my attention from him. Before I knew it, he descended on me and punched me in the eye. I started bleeding and left the place. I noticed he was drunk.”
Akula said the soldier later admitted he was drunk and blamed people at the scene for not cautioning him.
“I want justice. He must be brought to book. The case must not be swept under the carpet by the army. I did nothing wrong to deserve the assault,” she added.
Aloysius, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone on Thursday, said he assaulted Akula mistakenly. He said he had aimed the punch at a friend he had a disagreement with at the bar.
He said, “We were drinking and she (Akula) was the one serving the drink. As a friend and I were arguing, she asked me to help her pick the bottle. While she bent to pick the bottle herself, the blow I aimed at my friend mistakenly hit her.
“I begged her and tried to explain to her that it was not intentional. I also begged her parents. Her father said he had already reported me to the army authorities. People have been calling and abusing me. I have been begging her. I am very sorry for what happened.”