Navy Ordered To Pay Teacher N150m


The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, South-South Nigeria, has awarded the N150 million against the Nigerian Navy following the brutality and the violation of human rights of a University of Calabar Law teacher.

The court presided over by Justice Ademola Adetokunboh, ruled in a case of brutality and violation of human rights brought to the court by Barrister Joe Etene a former member of the Cross River State House of Assembly and Law lecturer at the University of Calabar.

The applicant had in a suit No: FHC/CA/M88/2010 in the matter of enforcement of fundamental human rights in the affidavit supporting the motion claimed that he was attacked on 29 January, 2010 by naval ratings opposite the Navy Barracks, Atimbo in Calabar, where he had gone to deliver a wedding gift to his niece.

Trouble was said to have started when a naval rating identified simply as Isa ordered him to repark his car. Etene in the affidavit said he had willingly complied with the order, but demanded to know whether the navy would allow the wedding guests to park their cars beside the road on the day of the ceremony.  “Rather than answer the simple question, the navy rating got infuriated and asked me if he is the Chief of Naval staff to answer such question and to further show his anger, he forcefully dragged me out of my car and with the butt of the gun he was carrying hit me directly on the head and I fell down.”

He claimed that as a result of the attack on him by the ratings, he fainted and was only rescued by the crowd that witnessed the beating and kicking and the attempts by the ratings to further drag him (applicant) to the barracks for more torture.

Etene said, “as a former legislator and lawyer, the humiliation was horrible and it took the bravery of people around the scene to rescue me from the wild attacks that were visited upon me. I also suffered terrible bruises to the body and to my head and I had to stay home for days to enable the pain subside and I was placed on various pain killers”.

He, however, prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to his rights of dignity of human person and personal liberty as enshrined in Sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and cannot be treated like an animal by the respondents.

Related News

He also sought a “declaration that the act of the respondents, particularly the 5th Respondent (Com. Gabriel Adebayo, the Commanding Officer NNS Victory, Calabar) and the 6th Respondent (Naval Rating Isa) as authorized by the 4th respondent (the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Calabar) by beating the applicant into coma is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in Sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as the respondents are not empowered to take the law in their own hands.

“A declaration that the applicant is entitled to monetary compensation for the breach of his fundamental rights and N300, 000,000.00 only for the harassment, beating, the injury sustained, the pains suffered and the trauma arising from the unwholesome act of the respondents.”

Delivering judgement, Justice Adetokunbo observed that trampling on human rights by naval operatives had become common in Nigeria and declared that “if the development is left unchecked, it will result in serious consequences.”

He said: “Nigerians are gradually becoming endangered species in their own country. Naval ratings should be taught that we are living in the 21st century Nigeria and not in the era of animal farm”.

Adetokunbo, granted all the reliefs sought by the applicant and slashed the damages to be paid by the Nigerian Navy (respondent) to the plaintiff (Etene) from N300 million to N150 million as a result of the naval ratings’ brutality and the sum of N50, 000 as litigation cost.

—Emma Una/Calabar

Load more