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  • News - South South - Delta
  • Updated: April 20, 2024

Okuama residents slam 200bn suit against Army

Okuama residents slam 200bn suit against Army

Residents of Okuama-Ewu in Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, have filed a N200 billion lawsuit against the Nigerian Army at the Federal High Court in Warri. 

They alleged that the army cordoned off their community, destroyed homes, and subjected them to dehumanizing treatment.

Also, they claimed they were wrongly accused of killing 17 military personnel without proper police investigations. The lawsuit stems from a dispute between Okuama-Ewu and Okoloba communities in Bomadi Local Government Area, which escalated on March 14 when soldiers entered Okuama-Ewu. 

The residents are seeking N200 billion in damages from the Nigerian Army for both general and exemplary purposes.

According to Vanguard, the applicants, mainly farmers, traders, and businessmen, applied for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights to a fair hearing, the dignity of the human person, private and family life, freedom of movement, choice of residency, private and family life, and the right to own property.

They are suing for themselves and for, on behalf of, members of, in the interest of and public interest of the residents of the Okuama community.

The applicants’ lawyers, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, Akpokona Omafuaire Esq., Seprebofa Oyeghe Esq., O. L. Ofuasia Esq., and Ernest Ogbaga Esq. applied on Thursday.

The reliefs sought against the Nigerian Army are as follows:

“A declaration of this honorable court that the respondent’s accusation, media trial, and sentencing of the applicants, and the residents of the Okuama community for the murder of 17 soldiers, which they have no hands in, on March 14, without any police investigation, or any public inquiry indicting them for the crime without following due process of law, is a flagrant violation of the applicants’ rights. the residents of the Okuama community’s right to a fair hearing, which is, therefore, illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional.

”A declaration of this honourable court that the respondent’s deployment of troops for the invasion, and brutal reprisal attacks on the applicants and residents of Okuama community for the death of 17 soldiers, which they have no hands in, without any police investigation, or any public inquiry indicting them for the crime, and without following due process of law, dishing out collective punishment on them, killing, maiming, brutalizing, harassing, intimidating, coercing demolishing, destroying, razing, and burning down of their properties.

“Leaving only the Anglican Church, the Okuama Secondary School, and the Aderha Primary School buildings standing, causing them to disperse and flee to various towns, villages, forests, bushes and creeks for safety, living the life of destitute under torturous, inhuman, degrading and excruciating condition without shelter, food, drinking water, medication, money or means of income, and clothes, exposed to weather, diseases, snake and mosquito bites, and other dangerous wild animals is a flagrant violation of the applicants, and the residents of the Okuama community have the right to the dignity of their human person, and, therefore, illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional.

”An order of this honourable court restraining the respondent, her servants, agents, and/or privies from further violating fundamental rights to the dignity of the human person, right to a fair hearing, right to privacy, and family life, freedom of movement and right of choice of place of residency and right to own property of the applicants and residents of the Okuama community.

”An order of this honourable court compelling the respondent to stop her troop’s continued invasion and occupation of the Okuama community, enabling the applicants and residents of the Okuama community to take back possession of their land that has been illegally and unlawfully seized and occupied by the respondent to rebuild their community.

”An order of this honourable court compelling the respondent to stop her troops of the cordon off of the Okuama community to allow the applicants and residents of the Okuama community to have access to move freely in and out of their community and have their right of choice to reside there as Nigerian citizens.

“The sum of N100,000,000.00 (One hundred billion Naira) as exemplary damages against the respondent, in favour of the applicants and the residents of the Okuama community for the respondent’s abuse of power to oppress, repress, and subjugate the applicants and residents of the Okuama community.

”And for such further order or orders as this honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.”

With the applicants applying, the respondent (the Army) has seven days to respond to the claim after proper service. The court will fix a date for the hearing of the application. Being a fundamental rights matter, they treat such applications with urgency, unlike civil cases.

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