Court slams N1milion suit on two soldiers for assaulting monarch in Akwa Ibom

The Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Itu, Local Government Area of the state on Friday, ordered two army officers attached to the Two Brigade Headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Udo Udoma, Uyo to jointly pay One Million Naira fine to the Clan Head of Oku Iboku, Etebom Ubong Edet for infringing on his fundamental human rights

The court also gave the Chief of Army Staff, 21 days, to write an apology letter to the said Clan Head.

Delivering his Judgement, Justice Ntong Ntong held that the indicted soldiers, Captain Ibrahim and Brigadier T.A. Lagbaja humiliated and tortured the Clan Head in the course of interviewing him over allegation that he was involved in the missing of four boats in his area.

The Court described Akwa Ibom State Government as responsible and responsive, stressing that although the Army officers were engaged in the investigation of the missing boats, but the State government never asked them to maltreat the traditional ruler.

The judge, who noted that the two Army officers were overzealous in the course of carrying out their lawful duties stressed that peoples fundamental rights must be upheld.

The Judge further noted, “The soldiers ought to have shown respect and dignity to the person of the applicant, not because he is a traditional ruler, but because he is a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is entitled to the respect of his fundamental rights as enshrined in Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution.

“Even if the monarch was suspected to have been involved in the alleged missing of the four boats, the Nigerian Army and its officers, who were asked to investigate the matter, ought to have treated Etebom Ubong Okokon with some modicum of respect.

“The Army Officers, Captain Ibrahim and Brigadier T.A. Lagbaja were personally liable for the infringement of the rights of the Clan Head.”

He explained that the Court was not shielding and cannot shield Etebom Okokon from investigation of any criminal allegation, but that the investigating body should do so within the purview and ambit of the Law.

Justice Ntong declared that the arrest, detention, harassment, humiliation and torture of the royal father from 6th to 13th of August last year, was unlawful, unconstitutional and a gross breach of his rights, which the soldiers must pay for.

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