Nigerian Army Ordered By Court To Pay N15m Comensation To Victim Of Human Rights Abuse

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A Federal High Court sitting in Enugu, has awarded N15 million damages to Joseph Agu against the Nigerian Army for torture, inhuman and cruel treatment by a soldier Sgt Francis Oga of 82 Division Enugu, leading to his permanent loss of sight. The incident occurred on January 15, 2009.

Agu had sued the Nigerian Army on December 10, 2010, for the enforcement of his fundamental human right. On the fateful day, Joseph Agu, who was driving a lorry was suddenly overtaken by the said Sgt, Francis Ogah who was driving a Mitsubishi bus.

Sgt Francis blocked and stopped Joseph and pulled him out of the lorry and started beating him. Other soldiers joined him.

Sgt Oga hit Joseph several times on his face with the iron buckle of his army belt, and blood started gushing out of his eyes and nose. The soldiers fled and left him in a pool of his blood. He was taken to hospital by passers-by for first aid.

Joseph complained to Army authorities but was not received and the perpetrators were not investigated.

After several medical treatments spanning more than one year, Joseph went completely blind. He sold all his family and personal belonging to meet his medical expenses during the treatment. No assistance came from the Army, even though they acknowledge the incident and said they would punish Sgt Ogah.

Trial judge, Justice Agishi after hearing the submissions of the applicants’ counsel, a LEDAP pro-bono lawyer in Enugu, who handled the case made the following declarations:

* That the torture, cruel and inhuman treatments meted on Agu by Sgt. Francis Ogah who hit him severally with clenched fist, a piece of wood and also used his metallic military belt to damage his eyes during the armed forces remembrance day on or about January 15, 2009 constitutes gross violation of his fundamental rights to dignity of human person as guaranteed under sections 34(1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution; and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, cap.10 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990, therefore illegal and unconstitutional

* That the mental torture, cruel and inhuman treatments meted on Agu by the acts and omissions of the respondents, who failed to take proper medical care of Joseph Agu or neglected to take care of his dependent after he was rendered blind by the Sgt. Francis Ogah , a serving soldier under the control of the Respondents, constitutes gross violations of the Joseph Agu’s fundamental rights to dignity of human person as guaranteed under section 34(1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution; and Articles 5 of the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, cap.10 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990, therefore illegal and unconstitutional.

* That the obstruction of Agu’s movement while he drove his lorry tipper at the junction linking Ogui Road from 82 Division Enugu by the Sgt. Francis Ogah with his Mitsubishi Mini Bus during the armed forces remembrance day on or about January 15, 2009 was arbitrary, illegal, unlawful and constitutes gross violations of the Joseph Agu’s fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed under section 35(1) (4), (5b) and 41 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, cap.10 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990, therefore illegal and unconstitutional.

Consequently, the court made the following orders against the respondents:
– Order of injunction, restraining the respondents by themselves, or through their officers or agents from further harassing or in any other manner infringing on the fundamental rights of the Applicant as enshrined and guaranteed under the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and in the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, cap.10 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990.

– An order that the respondents pay to Joseph Agu the sum of N15 million being compensation for the aforesaid unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional violations of his fundamental rights. [Vanguard]

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