A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has insisted that the N37.6 billion compensation must be paid to Odi people by the Federal Government for the November 20, 1999 invasion of the community by troops acting on orders of then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Justice Lambo Akambi in his ruling, described the Federal Government’s application for stay of execution as frivolous and lacking merit.
The Federal Governmen’s counsel, Michael Nomeh, who represented Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), while making the request for a stay of execution – pending the determination of the appeal – argued that if the compensation was released to Odi community it would be difficult to recover the fund, in the event the appeal was successful.
However, the judge stated that the Federal Government’s application was done in bad faith since it had the resources and assets which exceeded the N37.6billion the court awarded as compensation to Odi people.
Reacting to the FG’s application, counsel to Odi people, Lawal Rabana (SAN), in company of Lucius Nwosu (SAN) and Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), argued that Odi people were entitled to the compensation since the Federal Government would not be able to bring back to life all the innocent persons killed.
The counsel added: “The Federal Government cannot go bankrupt or collapse, if the money is released to Odi community.
“If the appeal succeeds, the Federal Government can get the money back. Odi people are not foreigners, who will abscond. Odi will continue to remain an integral part of Nigeria forever.”