Bayelsa Court Fines Nigerian Army ₦50,000.

Julianah Ologunde
By Julianah Ologunde 3 Min Read

Bayelsa Court Fines Nigerian Army ₦50,000: Activist’s Rights Case Against Military Gains Traction; In a recent development at the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, a significant ruling has been made in a fundamental rights case brought by activist and lawyer Festus Daumiebi Sunday against the Nigerian Army and other high-ranking military officials.

Background of the Case: Sunday’s Allegations

The court, on Thursday, imposed a cost of N50,000 against the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Defence Staff, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing legal battle. Sunday, a prominent figure in the Niger Delta region, initiated this case following what he describes as an invasion of his country home in Igbomotoru I, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He alleges that on March 30 and 31, 2024, military personnel destroyed properties worth hundreds of millions of naira.

Seeking justice, Sunday and his legal team, led by Professor O. F. Emiri (SAN), have demanded N20.4 billion in special and exemplary damages. The defendants in the case include the Nigerian Army, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff, and the Attorney General of the Federation.

Defendants’ Initial Non-Appearance and Subsequent Request

The case has seen several twists, with the defendants initially failing to appear or file responses despite multiple court notices. This led to a stern warning from the court on June 11, 2024. In an unexpected turn, the 1st and 3rd Respondents finally made an appearance on July 4, 2024, requesting a 60-day grace period to file their responses. This request was strongly opposed by Sunday’s counsel, Barr. Affinih Egbegi, a former Attorney General of Bayelsa State.

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In its latest ruling, the court has ordered all respondents to file and serve their responses and pay accrued penalties. The case is now set for a hearing of the originating application on July 19, 2024.

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Implications for Military-Civilian Relations in Niger Delta

Sunday, a real estate magnate with political aspirations, has not only accused the army of the destruction but also alleged involvement of civilians closely allied with the APC Deputy Governorship candidate of Bayelsa State in the 2023 election.

As the case unfolds, it continues to draw attention to issues of military conduct and civilian rights in the Niger Delta region.

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