A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri, Imo State and presided over by Justice Maureen Onyetenu on Thursday, May 12 awarded a N200million against the Nigerian army for killing a businessman, Noel Chigbu.
In her judgment, Justice Onyetenu agreed with the applicant’s request that the Nigerian soldiers were responsible for the murder of the businessman at Amakaohia flyover in Owerri on April 30, 2021.
She however declined granting the demand of the sum of N1billion by the counsel to the applicant, Brigadier Gen. G. O Anyalebechi(Rtd).
Anyalebechi, told correspondents shortly after judgement that he was satisfied with the court verdict.
The counsel said, “I am satisfied with the judgment though we asked for N1bn but the court awarded N200m. The court found the Chief of Army Staff and the Commander of the 34 Artillery Brigade Command, Obinze, liable.
“But the governor of Imo State and the Chief of Defence Staff were not found liable. This is so because even though the governor of Imo State invited the military to Imo State, he was not the commanding officers of the soldiers who killed Noel Chigbu. The Chief of Defence Staff is not also the commanding officers of the soldiers who killed the businessman.
“In military jurisprudence, the Chief of Army Staff and the Commander of 34 Artillery Brigade Command, Obinze, are the commanding officers of the officers who killed Noel Chigbu. They are liable for what their subordinates did.
“Instead of the Chief of Army Staff and the Commander of the 34 Artillery Brigade Command, Obinze, to punish the erring officers rather they endorsed their actions. I am satisfied with the judgment but I am ready to meet them at the higher court if they want us to wash our dirty cloths in the public.”
The applicant and elder brother to the deceased, Tobechi Chigbu said that though no amount of money could equate the life of their brother, the judgment was a relief to his family.
Tobechi Chigbu, had informed journalists that some soldiers shot dead his brother on the day he took delivery of his new Toyota Camry car and was driving home at the close of work.
Tobechi said Noel was killed after dropping off his friend and was heading home at Amakaohia in Owerri.
He had said that the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the state told the family that the soldiers said that they shot his brother dead because he violated their checkpoint rule.
Tobechi said, “Noel was one of my young brothers. He would have been 39 on May 18, 2021, unfortunately, he was shot dead on the day he took delivery of his new vehicle. His corpse was dumped at the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri by the soldiers who killed him.”