Court slams N75m damages on navy for shooting, torturing civilian

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For illegally shooting, torturing and holding 39-year-old, Etim Asuquo Akpan hostage, the Federal High Court, Calabar has ordered the Nigerian Navy to pay the sum of N75 million for damages.

The Court also ordered that the Navy tendered an apology in a national daily to Akpan.

Delivering judgment in Calabar on Monday, Justice Inyang Ekwo, said men who are armed by law to protect the citizenry should not turn around and brutalize or take the lives, outside the law, of those they are supposed to protect.

Akpan, a bricklayer and indigene of Akwa Ibom State, had dragged the Nigerian Navy and others to court in 2013 for shooting him in both legs for no reason, torturing him and holding him hostage by tying him with chains in the hospital he was receiving treatment.

The plaintiff 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 said without provocation, he was just shot in both legs by the men of the Navy and left in his own pool of blood.

He said it was members of a nearby church that rescued him and took him to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for treatment and when the naval personnel realized he was in the hospital, they went to the hospital and chained him to his bed and even tortured him. This continued for seven months, when he was discharged and they Navy men disappeared, and thereafter he sought legal help in 2013, he said.

Delivering his judgment, Ekwo said if such trend is encouraged, every citizen would be a potential victim of such brutality.

He quashed arguments that the Naval personnel were attached to the Quick Intervention Squad, which consisted of other security agencies, and therefore not a liability of the Nigerian Navy.

He said such an act cannot go without remedy, as Asuquo has a family and other people to support all his life, now he has been permanently incapacitated by the treatment meted to him by the Navy.

The judge regretted that getting justice was slow especially in this case, assuring that the wheels of justice would grind to a halt in his court.

Asuquo expressed gratitude for the judgment.    

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