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Military invasion: Court orders CBN to pay N8bn to Benue communities

The Federal High Court, on Monday, ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately pay the sum of N8 billion to Tiv communities in Benue invaded by soldiers sometime in year 2001.

NAN reports that the money was awarded in favour of the communities in Logo, Ukum, Kwande and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas of the state for the loss of lives and property they suffered during the invasion by soldiers of the Nigerian Army in 2001.

Justice Nyang Ekwo gave the order following the garnishee application by the communities for the enforcement of the consent judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal in Enugu on Feb. 2, 2015.

The judge, who had earlier granted the preliminary “garnishee nisi”, made the garnishee order “absolute” on Monday by ordering the CBN to pay the sum of N8 billion into an interest yielding account to be domiciled with First Bank of Nigeria Plc administered by the Chief Registrar of the court.

He ruled: “The garnishee (CBN) is hereby ordered to pay the garnishee sum into an interest yielding account to be opened and maintained by the Chief Registrar of this court in First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

“The order authorising the disbursement of the money, shall be made upon being satisfied with the terms of disbursement including the legal fees jointly signed by Ocha Ulegede Esq, and J.K Gadzama, SAN, for the ganishors and endorsed by first class chiefs of Jukun, Logo, Kwande, Katsina-Ala local government areas on behalf of the Tiv Traditional Council.

”The plaintiffs in the suit are 14 persons from the Benue communities, who were victims of the military invasion which occurred about 18 years ago.

Those who instituted the suit were late Dr. Alexander Gaadi, Peter Orngu, Terfa Akaagba, Anongo Unishigh, Ngunengen Adula, Demelu Adula, Zaki Mazan, Mbakesen Ayatse, Mbayemen Maswuan, Anande Agashia, Azenda Igo, Elizabeth Aoughakaa, and Andrew Juntu.

They instituted two separate suits which were later consolidated against the then Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Olusegun Obasanjo, the then Minister of Defence, Chief of Army Staff and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

In their consolidated suits, which were filed at the Federal High Court in Markurdi but later transferred to Enugu Division of the court, the 14 plaintiffs alleged that the Army was used against the Tiv communities under the pretext of settling communal conflicts.

They, therefore, urged the court to declare the deployment of the army as genocidal, and the continued occupation of the communities by soldiers as undemocratic and unconstitutional.

In one of the two suits, marked FHC/MKD/CS/6/2002, they sought N60 billion as damages against the respondents for “brutally and untimely terminating the lives” of the plaintiffs’ parents, daughters and brothers” as well as for “permanently depriving” some of the plaintiffs their body parts such as manhood and hands of some of them thereby subjecting them “to mental and psychological pains and anguish.

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