A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State has awarded N60 million in damages to a man, his wife and children for the unlawful invasion of their residence by officers of the Nigerian Navy.
The Court delivered judgement on three suits filed by the man and other charges bordering on infringement on human rights and unlawful confiscation of their belongings.
The claimant, Mr. Hamilton Ibomo, Mrs. Blessing Hamilton and their children had prayed the court to declare the raid on their home which took place on the 11th and 12th of June 2020 as unlawful and also reward a financial compensation of N70 million to them as damages suffered.
The Court presided over by Justice A.O. Awogboro in a judgement delivered on Wednesday via zoom described the invasion as unlawful and ordered the applicant to be paid a sum of N60 million and stop further harassment of Hamilton Ibomo and his family.
Speaking to newsmen after the judgement, Counsel to the Claimant, Peace Jonah described the judgement as upright, saying the case lasted for about nine months.
Jonah said, “The judgement delivered by the High Court clearly demonstrates that the rule of law prevails over and above oppressive tendencies under the guise of military operations.
“No doubt the events of 11th and 12th June 2020 at my client’s residence were unfortunate. However, we are glad that the court has made useful orders in the form of monetary compensation to the tune of N60 million.
“We shall take active steps to quickly enforce the mandatory terms of the judgement against the Nigerian Navy, however subject to their rights of appeal.
The claimant’s counsel noted that the delay in the matter which was filed in September 2020, was caused by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) strike which lasted for some months.
In his response, Barr. Amos Godfrey, Counsel to the first respondent, being the Chief of Naval Staff, the second respondent being the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Agudama-Epie, and the third respondent who is the Commander NSS Soroh, Agudama-Epie, noted that they will know their next line of action when the full copy of the judgement has been given to them.
He said he is not permitted to make comments on the judgement, adding that he is yet to contact his clients on the judgement and cannot categorically state if there will be an appeal of the judgement.
Reacting to the judgement, Mr. Hamilton Ibomo, a native of Ikoromogbene community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area expressed happiness over the ruling.
He said the Navy came in at night, seized some engines and beat up his wife, he was angry that was why he took them to court and he is thankful that judgement was given in his favour.
He said, “The advice I want to give to the security, either Army , Navy or Civil Defence, any report that someone reports to them, let them find out before they take action.
“You cannot come to someone’s house and break door, break windows, they beat up my wife, it is not good”.
The court further ordered that the Navy return two horsepower engines and two mobile phones seized by Naval Officers during the raid on Hamilton’s compound at Bakery Road, Azikoro Village.