The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has ordered the Nigerian Navy to pay the sum of N75 million to 39-year-old, Mr Etim Asuquo Akpan, for damages after illegally shooting, torturing and holding him hostage.
The Court also ordered that the Navy tendered an apology in a national daily to Akpan.
Delivering judgment in Calabar Monday 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 brutalize or take the lives, outside the law, of those they are supposed to protect.
According to The Nation, 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 chains in the hospital he was 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 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 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 was 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.
Counsel to the Navy, Mr Tanbe Mark, said, “The court has given judgment and we have to follow the judgment of the court. For now, my clients have not given us instructions to say anything. For now we are taking it the way the court has given it. On appeal, we have gotten no instructions from our clients to that effect.”
Akpan’s lawyer, Mr Albert Ben, said they were approached in 2013and they had to take up the case because it is the right of every citizen to be protected, no matter their status.
“You heard from the judge, expressing dismay that the matter even delayed. We are glad because if it is this way, the citizens will be assured that no matter what happens, their rights are being protected.”
Akpan also expressed gratitude for the judgment.