A Federal High Court sitting in sitting in Akure, the Ondo State Capital has awarded N10 million damages against the Nigerian Army for assault and unlawful detention of an Okitipupa-based lawyer, Zerubbabel Omoyele.
In the suit, marked as No. FHC/AK/CS/69/2013 and filed by Omoyele’s counsel, Tope Temokun, the Nigerian Army, the former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, Commanding Officer, 19 Battalion, Naquora Barracks, Okitipupa, Ondo State, Captain M.C Ndubuisi and Hasan Habila were joined as respondents.
Counsel of the victim, Temokun, said the incident occurred on March 11, 2013 at Okitipupa when Omoyele, in a bid to obtain evidence of brutal assault meted out to his client, Joseph Omoranmowo led to the harassment and assault of the legal practitioner.
Temokun explained that Omoyele’s client, Omoranmowo was unlawfully detained in the military cell and he had been ripped open in the head with a bottle of McDowell drink after the beating of his life by one Captain M.C Ndubuisi and Hassan Habila, both military officers at the Naquora Barracks, in Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state.
He added that trouble started between Omoyele and the soldiers when he invited a photographer to take shots of his client, who had been wounded on the head.
Temokun said for daring to obtain evidence against the military officers, he (Omoyele) was forcibly taken to the barracks, detained and beaten from 8:30 a.m to 1pm.
In his argument, Temokun relied on section 34 (1) of the 1999 constitution, articles V and VI of the African Charter on Human and people’s Right and Articles V, III and XI of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He argued that the acts of the military officers constitute a violent violation and a gross breach of his client’s fundamental rights to dignity of human person and personal liberty by a body which was saddled with the responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country.
In his ruling, Justice I.M Sani said it was wrong for the military to assume the role of the police when they are meant to take care of the territorial borders of the country and protect the citizens from scourge of internal terrorism.
The court berated the Army officers for their condemnable act, saying soldiers have no power under the law to beat and detain citizens they ought to protect.
It therefore ordered the Nigerian Army to pay the applicant the sum of N10 million being exemplary damages for the violations of the applicant’s fundamental rights and order of perpetual injunction, restraining the officers and the Army from further harassment of the applicant.
Source: Daily Post