OKUAMA MAYHEM: Residents Drag Army to Court to Enforce Their Human Rights, Demand N200b Damages

National

The People of Okuama in Ughelli South LG of Delta State have dragged the Nigerian Army to a Federal High Court in Warri demanding  N200 billion as general damages and the enforcement of their fundamental human rights for fair hearing.

They accused the Nigerian Army of  cordoning off their community, destroying their homes, dehumanizing and accusing them of killing 17 military personnel without police investigations.

The applicants, mainly farmers, traders, and businessmen who are suing for themselves and on behalf of  the residents of the Okuama community are Victor Akemor, Madam Omotiwori Olarehor, Victor Odi, Okrika Emmanuel, Austin Eferemua, and Evelyn Edjekola.

Others in suit no. FHC/WR/CS/41/2024 before Hon Justice I.M Sani are Pa James Ubredu, David Oghenewede, Lucky Orode, and Iwriogbo Best, Felix Orhiunu, Bernard Michael, Oghenekobiruo, Vero Joseph, Ebikawe Emmanuel, Francis Uphurie, and Hon Belvis Adogbo.

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.

”A declaration of this honourable court that the respondent’s troops invasion, and forceful eviction of the applicants, and the residents of the Okuama community from their homes in a manner that interfered, and robbed them of their privacy, family bond, and unity, causing them to disperse and live apart 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 is a violation of the applicants and residents of the Okuama community right to private and family life, and, therefore, illegal unlawful and unconstitutional.

”A declaration of this honourable court that the respondent’s cordon-off of the Okuama community, of the Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, preventing, barring, prohibiting, and restraining the applicants, and residents of Okuama community from gaining access into their community, and homes to live their normal li, fe and carry on their normal business, and, thereby depriving them of their right to move freely in and out of their community and their right of choice to reside in Okuama community for the murder 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 is a flagrant violation of their freedom of movement, and right of choice of place of residency, and, therefore, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

”A declaration of this honourable court that the respondent’s troops razing and burning down of the properties of the applicants and residents of the Okuama community, leaving only the Anglian Church, the Okuama Secondary School and the Aderha Primary School buildings standing, forcefully and compulsorily seizing, and taking over possession of their land without any Delta State Government or Federal Government of Nigeria compulsory acquisition of the land and payment of compensation to the applicants and residents of the Okuama community, and without their input and the looting of the applicants, and the residents of the Okuama community’s moveable properties, the particulars which are contained in the affidavit in support of this application by the troops and neighboring villagers for the murder of 17 soldiers, which they have no hands in 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’ and residents of the Okuama community right to own both moveable and immovable properties, and, therefore, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

”A declaration of this honourable court that respondent’s troops entering into the Okuama community to perform the statutory and constitutional duties of the Nigerian Police Force on March 14, 2024, and the respondent’s troops invasion, brutal reprisal attack, killing, maiming brutalizing. harassment, intimidation, and coercion of the applicants and residents of the 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 through collective punishment on 15/3/2024 without due process, and the backing of law that led to the forceful eviction of the applicants, and the entire residents of the Okuama community from their homes, the demolition, destruction, razing and burning down of their buildings, properties leaving only the Anglian Church the Okuama Secondary School and the Aderha Primary School buildings standing, the looting of their movable properties causing them to disperse and flee to various villages, towns, bushes, forests and creeks for safety, where they now live as destitute under inhuman, degrading and excruciating conditions, the cordoning off of the Okuama Community land from the applicants and the residents, refusing them access into their community, and their rights to live there and the unlawful seizure and taking over possession of their land by the respondent’s troops, is an abuse of power.

”An order of this honourable court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights to the dignity of the human person, right to a fair hearing, right to private and family life, freedom of movement and right of choice of place of residence and right to own property of the Applicants and residents of the Okuama community, against the respondent, her servants, and agents and/or privies

”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.

”An order of this honourable court compelling the respondent to allow the applicants and the residents of the Okuama community to go back home from the towns, villages, forests, and bushes, where they are presently living as destitute fugitives under torturous, inhuman, degrading and excruciating condition without shelter, food, drinking water, medication, money and cloth exposed to weather, diseases, snake and mosquito bites and other dangerous wild animals to help them regain their right to the dignity of their human person and to rebuild their community.

”A perpetual injunction of this honourable court restraining the respondent, her servants, agents, and/or privies from killing, embarrassing, coercing, bullying, harassing, intimidating, tormenting, torturing, dehumanizing, debasing and frustrating the Applicants and the residents of the Okuama community from enjoying their fundamental right to dignity of their human person, right to fair hearing, right to private and family life, freedom of movement, right of choice of place of residence, and right to own property.

” The sum of N100,000,000.00 (One hundred billion Naira) as general damages against the respondent in favor of the applicants and the residents of the Okuoma community for the respondent’s violation of their fundamental right to the dignity of their human person, right to a fair hearing, right to private and family life, freedom of movement, right of choice of place of residency and right to own property and the destruction, burning and razing down of the whole buildings in the Okuama community, leaving only the Anglian Church, the Okuama Secondary School and the Aderha Primary School buildings standing, and the looting of their moveable properties, the particulars, which contain in the applicants affidavit in support.

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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