Some indigenes of Ajakurama and Tarila Zion communities in Egbema Kingdom, Edo state have slammed a N700 million damages suit on the Nigerian Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The petitioners, in a case with suit number FHC/B/CS/116/2017, filed before a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo state, alleged that the Nigerian Army, through the 4 Brigade Command, Benin, violated their fundamental human rights during the October 20 military operation in their communities, destroying the property and disrupting their normal lives.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army had explained that the operation, which was carried out on October 20 in the communities was pursuant to a credible intelligence, exposing the activities of some militants who were operating from the communities.
The petitioners; Felix Odowu, Ogolugha Odowu, Aye Nisor, Christopher Felix, Ibenatei Ipuluwei and Teacher Magic, had prayed the court to declared the said military operation, during which their property were seized and wantonly destroyed, as unlawful and a violation of their constitutional rights.
According to a statement by the counsel to the petitioners, Napoleon Egin, the prayers included an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the Army, the Attorney-General of the Federation and five others from further victimization of the communities.
According to Egin, the petitioners’ prayers included “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents whether by themselves, their privies and servants from further harassing, intimidating, humiliating the applicants and or invading Ajakurama and Tarila Zion communities, an order of injunction restraining the armyfrom further occupation of both communities as well as a letter of apology by the respondents to be published in a national newspaper.
“Our clients are asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further breach of their fundamental rights and the sum of N700million as general damages for injuries already suffered.
“We equally filed an ex parte motion praying the court to order parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and final determination of the originating motion on notice. This step was taken in view of the sinister mission of the Nigerian army to annihilate any adult male indigene of our clients’ communities.
“As we brief you this moment, the army’s act of hostility against the good people of Ajakurama town in Egbema Ijaw clan of Edo State continue unabated and it is however hoped that with the service of this process on them today, there will be sign of peace and normalcy returning to the troubled area”, he said.
Meanwhile, spokesman of the 4 Brigade Command, Benin, Captain Muhammed Maidawa, the operation was in response to a credible information on the activities of some suspected militants who he said are living in the communities.
The Army had earlier claimed to have discovered a cache of ammunitions and military regalia from the hideout of the suspected militants in the community, an allegation the residents describe as “giving a dog a bad name just to nail it.”