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Published On: Tue, Dec 10th, 2013

Court Awards Ijaw Community N100bn over Illegal Military Raid

LAGOS DECEMBER 10TH (URHOBOTODAY)-A Federal High Court sitting in Asaba has declared that the bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdom, comprising 53 communities, by the Joint Task Force JTF during the military raid of 2009 is unconstitutional
The court consequently ordered the Federal Government to pay communities that make up the Kingdom the sum of N100 billion in damages.

Following the raid of militant camps in the Delta Creeks and the consequent bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdom, the leaders had gone to court seeking the declaration of the raid as unconstitutional as the militant camps were not located in the communities.
They also accused the JTF of wanton destruction of properties and loot of the communities and consequently demanded N100 billion in damages.
In his judgment yesterday, Justice Ibrahim Buba held that the massive bombardment, which resulted in the demolition, destruction of houses, household furniture/wares, boats, canoes, domestic animals and displacement of members of the communities, was a clear violation of Section 217(2)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In suit number FHC/ASB/CS/138.2009 between Chief Nelson Ogelegbanwei and 52 other plaintiffs versus the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and two other defendants, they contended that the action violates 217(2)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Constitution.
While granting the prayers of the plaintiffs, Justice Buba averred that the 3rd defendant (JTF) acted outside the law by destroying lives and property of the 53 communities, more so his failure to appear in court to state their own side of the story was an acceptance of the claims of the plaintiffs.
The Lead Counsel, Selekeowei Larry (SAN) described the judgement as a sound judgement adding that it was a demonstration that justice can be obtained from the courts rather than through violence.
Counsel to the federal government, Igbinowahia Osagie said though they gave a good fight, the reason for the loss was the absence of the third defendant (JTF Commander) in court to state his own side of the story as to whether his actions were lawful or not.
The members of the Community were however not present in the court to celebrate their victory as they were mourning the King of Gbaramatu Kingdom who passed on a few days earlier.
Source: Channels

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