Court issues N200m judgment against Nigerian military for killing Imo businessman
Justice Maureen Onyetenu of the Federal High Court in Owerri, Imo State, on Thursday delivered a N200 million judgment against the Nigerian military for the murder of businessman, Noel Chigbu.
In delivering the judgement, the jurist accepted the claimant’s claim that the Nigerian soldiers were responsible for the murder of the businessman at the Amakaohia flyover in Owerri on April 30, 2021.
Although the plaintiff’s lawyer, Brigadier General GO Anyalebechi (retired), demanded 1 billion naira in compensation for the murder of the businessman, the court settled for 200 million naira.
Informing our correspondent after the judgment, Anyalebechi said he was satisfied with the verdict of the court.
The lawyer said, “I am satisfied with the judgment. Although we asked for 1 billion naira, the court awarded 200 million naira. The court found the Commander of the 34th Artillery Brigade Command, Obinze of the Nigerian Army, and the Chief of Staff of the Army to be liable.
“But the Governor of Imo State and the Chief of Defense Staff have not been found responsible. This is so because even though the Governor of Imo State invited the army to Imo State, he was not the commander of the soldiers who killed Noel Chigbu. The Chief of Defense Staff is not also the commander of the soldiers who killed the businessman.
“In military jurisprudence, the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Commander of the Obinze 34th Artillery Brigade Command are the commanders of the officers who killed Noel Chigbu. They are responsible for what their subordinates have done.
“Instead of the Army Chief of Staff and the Commander of the 34th Artillery Brigade ordering Obinze to punish offending officers, they approved of their actions. I’m happy with the judgment but I’m ready to meet them in the higher court if they want us to wash our dirty clothes in public.
The plaintiff and elder brother of the deceased, Tobechi Chigbu, said that while no amount of money could match their brother’s life, the judgment was a relief to his family.
The deceased elder brother and family spokesman, Tobechi Chigbu, had told reporters that soldiers had shot his brother dead the day he took delivery of his new Toyota Camry car and was returning home from work.
A distraught Tobechi said Noel was killed after dropping off his friend and returning home to Amakaohia in Owerri.
He said the deputy police commissioner for operations in the state told the family that the soldiers said they shot his brother because he violated the checkpoint rule.
Tobechi had said, “Noel was one of my younger brothers. He would have turned 39 on May 18, 2021, unfortunately he was shot the day he took delivery of his new vehicle. His corpse was dumped at Owerri Federal Medical Center by the soldiers who killed him.
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