The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has ordered the Nigerian Navy to pay the sum of N75m to a 39-year-old, Mr Etim Asuquo Akpan, as damages after illegally shooting, torturing and holding him hostage.
The court also ordered the Navy to tender an apology to Akpan in a national daily.
Delivering judgment in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital, in the case with number FHC/CA/M35/2013, Justice Inyang Ekwo, said men who are armed by law to protect the citizenry should not turn around and brutalise or take the lives, outside the law, of those they are supposed to protect.
He further disclosed that Akpan, a bricklayer and indigene of Akwa Ibom State, had taken the Nigerian Navy and others to court in 2013 for shooting him in both legs for no reason, torturing him and holding him hostage and also keeping him in chains while he was in the hospital receiving treatment.
The appellant said the incident happened in 2012 in Calabar when he was on his way to work and ran into men of the Navy attached to the then Quick Intervention Squad of the Cross River State Government.
He told the court that without provocation, he was just shot in both legs by the men of the Navy and left in a pool of his own blood.
Members of a nearby church came to his aid and took him to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for treatment.
According to him, when the naval personnel realised he was in the hospital, they trailed him there and chained him to his bed and even tortured him.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Ekwo said, if such trend is encouraged every citizen would be a potential victim of such brutality.
He quashed the arguments that the Naval personnel was attached to the Quick Intervention Squad, which consisted of other security agencies, and therefore the Nigerian Navy should not be liable for their action.
The judge said such an act could not go without remedy, as Asuquo has a family and other people to support all his life.
Noting that Asuquo has been permanently incapacitated by the treatment meted to him by the Navy, the judge regretted that getting justice was slow in the case.
Counsel to the Navy, Mr Tanbe Mark, in an interview, said the court had given judgment and they would have to comply with it.
According to Akpan’s lawyer, Mr Albert Ben, it is the right of every citizen to be protected, no matter their status.
Although he was saddened by the delay in the matter, he is glad that justice has been finally served.
Akpan who was left deformed expressed gratitude for the judgment.
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