Legal Nigeria

Court summons military officer, others over alleged invasion

By Joseph Onyekwere 

A federal High Court, Lagos, has summoned the General Officer Commander (GOC), 81 Division and the Commandant, 65 Battalion of the Nigerian Army to appear before it over alleged continuous harassment and intimidation of a businessman, Alhaji Yunus Adedokun.
Justice Peter Lifu made the order in a fundamental human rights enforcement application filed by applicant over the alleged invasion of his landed property situated along Anna Mbachu Street, Oke Arin Village, in Eti-Osa Local government, Area of Lagos State.
The applicant in a motion ex parte filed by his counsel, Mr. Olusola Salawu, had sought an interim order directing the Nigerian Army, GOC 81 Division and the Commandant 65 Battalion to stop the threat to his life and vacate his property.

The applicant is also praying the court to declare that the continuous harassment by soldiers from the Nigerian Army 65 Battalion, Bonny Camp, Lagos is unconstitutional and a breach of his fundamental rights to life and human dignity as guaranteed by Section 33 and 34 of the Constitution.

He is also demanding a sum of N200 million as exemplary damages against the respondents for alleged breach of his fundamental human rights to life and human dignity.

Ruling on the application, Justice Lifu ordered the respondents to appear in court and show why the prayers sought in the applicant’s motion should not be granted.

The court held: “The respondents are hereby directed to come forthwith before this court and show cause within three days from the date of the service of this order on them why the prayers sought in the applicant’s motion dated November 16, 2021 and filed on November 18, 2021 should not be granted.”

“That the said motion ex-parte, which is the subject of this order, the already filed motion on notice and the originating processes shall be served on the respondents along with the instant order.” 
The matter has been adjourned till January 21, 2022, for the respondents to show cause. In a 16-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by the applicant, he stated that he purchased the disputed land from Ojomu Family Council and was issued a receipt dated April 2004 as well as Deed of Assignment.

The applicant averred that in preparation for construction, he bought and delivered granites, sharp sand, iron, and five tonnes of cement, on the site and had already completed the foundation of his building on the land.

He stated that on November 9, while he and some artisans were working on the site, heavily armed soldiers from 65 Battalion Bonny Camp Lagos invaded the site and allegedly started shooting sporadically leaving himself and other artisans to run helter-skelter for their life, leaving some of the artisans injured.

He stated that the soldiers threatened to kill anybody found on the land boasting that they have a direct order to shoot at sight any person found on the land. 

He added that soldiers have no business whatsoever in land matters and it is not within their line of duties to invade and be stationed on private citizen’s landed property

He urged the court to hold that the invasion of his landed property and restricting him from entering it is wrongful, unlawful and a denial of his right to property.