A State High Court sitting in
Port Harcourt has ordered the Nigerian Army to pay the sum of N20 million as damages to the Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Council, Mr Roland Sekibo and two others for harassment during the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The Tide gathered that the Nigerian Army had raided the homes of Roland Sekibo, Tobins Tobins and Damiete Dokubo during the 2019 Presidential election and declared same wanted over allegations of sponsoring hoodlums to truncate the electoral process to favour the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
The judgment was delivered Monday by Justice Gorge Omerji in Port Harcourt.
The court declared that the actions of the military against the three persons were anti-democratic, thus the reason for the judgment.
Hon. Justice Omereji condemned the military for issuing a statement indicting the Executive Chairman of Council, Mr Sekibo and the others as masterminds of events that occurred on the 23rd of February, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly polls.
According to the learned judge, it was wrong for the military to have issued a statement, declaring the three persons wanted without the opportunity of fair hearing.
Omereji, however, ordered the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Army Staff to pay the sum of N20 million, as damages for the raid of the private homes of the parties.
In a chat with newsmen, Counsel for Roland Sekibo, Mr Ibim Dokubo, pointed out that the judgment of the court so far, had proven that his client and the two others were innocent when they participated in the general elections.
“It gave a clear landmark judicial pronouncement, stating that the event of the 23 of February which happened in the course of the general election as it applied to Roland Sekibo, Tobins Tobins and Damiete Dokubo were an infringement on their fundamental human rights.
“The court granted all the prayers we sought and condemned in clear terms the involvement and actions of the military in the electoral process. The sum of 20 million naira was awarded in favour of all the applicants as against the military.
“This means that our clients were not wrong in participating in the election, but it was undemocratic for the military to have arrested them and invaded their homes in any manner.”, he said.
The counsel for the First and Second respondents, Nigerian Army and the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division Port Harcourt and the Chief of Army Staff, Mr Samuel Edewede, hinted that the Army would appeal the judgment.
”The judgment went against us and the court resolved that my clients carried out the act complained about by the applicants. We do not feel satisfied because we have said we were not election agents. In this era when people go about with military uniform and carry military guns and carry out acts, but court agreed with them that it was the military,” he stressed.
32,791 Cases Pending At Rivers Courts, CJ Reveals
About 32,791 cases instituted in 2018 are said to be pending in various courts in Rivers State.
The state Chief Judge, Justice Adanma Inyie Iyayi-Lamikanra disclosed this while speaking at the special court session held at the state Judiciary auditorium to herald the opening of the 2019/2020 legal year in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
The state chief judge while giving the breakdown of the cases said, the 32,791 cases pending were among the 46,618 cases received from the October 31, 2018 to November 8, 2019, adding that a total of 13,827 cases were filed, while 10,562 cases were disposed.
Iyayi-Lamikanra added that a total of 44,457 cases were brought forward from the 2018/2019 legal year within the period under review.
She also disclosed that out of the number, the magistrate courts received the highest with 38,460 cases, high courts got 13,483, Customary Court of Appeal 1,233, customary courts 3,011, juvenile 1,233, and sanitation court got 1,680 while revenue court has the lowest recorded cases of 70 within the period under review.
Iyayi-Lamikanra also revealed that the state Judiciary generated a total sum of N379,838,535,75 from all the courts, including the customary courts within the period under review, adding that the figure represents 47 per cent increase from last year which, she said, was remarkable.
She described the legal year’s special court session as an annual ritual in the legal profession that provides for critique and stock-staking of the activities of the preceding year, with a view to improving on the administration of justice across the state by key players and critical actors in the legal profession.
“This annual ritual provides for stock-taking and examinations for the last legal year for the administration of justice in the state.
“We have set up Judiciary Information Technology Committee policy in compliance with the directive by the National Judicial Commission (NJC),” she stated.
She used the opportunity to thank the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for the financial support given to the state Judiciary as well as provision of vehicles to both judges and magistrates in the state.
Also speaking, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr Adangor urged judges and magistrates to dispense justice without favour and fear, adding that both the rich and the poor deserve equal justice, even as he commended the state chief executive for approving and releasing funds to clear the arrears of allowances owed lawyers at the state Ministry of Justice since 2008.
In his contribution, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), O.C.J. Okocha, who spoke for members of senior bar in the state, called for total independence of the Judicial arm of government, and recommended that each state should be allowed to determine the number of judges to be appointed.
NSCDC Convicts 76 In Rivers
The National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Rivers State says it has convicted not fewer than 76 persons in the past four years.
The figures were made public by the Public Relations Officer of the corps in the state, Akin Oguntuase in a chat with The Tide, in Port Harcourt.
Oguntuase said over a thousand cases had been reported in the past years, but that those convicted were now serving different prison terms.
He explained that, “prosecution is different from conviction, and I can assure you that we have recorded huge success in the past five years in checking pipeline vandalism”.
Oguntuase said among the states in the federation Rivers State has the highest number of oil installation vandalisation and bunkering issues.
He, however, disclosed that matters relating to vandalisation of power facilities, and other government properties are low except few cases of rail line vandalisation.
Commenting on the killing of two of its men at Alakiri Flow Station, penultimate week, Oguntuase stated that investigations have commenced on the matter.
He decried the incessant attacks on its men, especially those protecting oil facilities, stating that new measures are evolved to reduce fatalities.
The Rivers State Civil Defense spokesman nonetheless dismissed claims by some members of the public that its men were compromising and allowing illegal refined products into the state.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, none of our men has been caught in such act, because once we get such matter, such officer will face the music, and maybe dismissed if found guilty.”
N16.4m Fraud: Court Discharges Ex-IGP, CP
Justice Silvanus Oriji of the FCT High Court, Apo, yesterday discharged former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Sunday Ehindero, and Commissioner of Police, Budget, John Obaniyi, of N16.4 million fraud charge.
Ehindero and Obaniyi, a Commissioner of Police in charge of finance and budget at the Force headquarters, were arraigned on May 10, 2018, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) .
Delivering judgment, Justice Oriji held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants and failed to prove that they converted the said interest generated to their personal use.
According to the judge, the investigation officer, a prosecution witness, did not discredit the claim of the defendants that the interest generated from N500 million deposited in fixed deposit accounts was used for operational purposes.
“I therefore uphold the defendants’ no case submission.The defendants are hereby discharged,” he said.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the Counsel to Ehindero, Kelvin Omoraw, and Samuel Odariko, representing Obaniyi, had filed a no-case submission.
The ICPC had accused the former IGP and Obaniyi of misappropriating the sum of N557 million donated by the Bayelsa Government to the Nigerian Police Force for purchase arms and ammunition.
The prosecution alleged that the two defendants used their positions to divert N500 million out of the N557 million into separate fixed deposit accounts belonging to them.
The N500million placed in fixed deposits, according to the anti-corruption commission, yielded N16.4 million interest, which they were accused of converting to personal use.
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