Group urges compliance
LEGAL moves by the Federal Government to stop the execution of N37.6 billion judgment, which ordered it to pay compensation for Odi community in Bayelsa State, was Wednesday stalled as Justice Lambo Akambi of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt dismissed the suit.
He said the application was frivolous and smacks of rascality, pomposity while the dead in Odi are crying in their grave for justice.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) urged the Federal Government to implement the recent court judgments, which ordered N78.8 billion compensation for Odi and Zaki-Ibiam communities in Bayelsa and Benue States respectively.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Michael Nomeh, who held brief for Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), had urged the court to grant his client’s application for a stay of execution on the N37.6 billion damage the court awarded to Odi community pending the determination of their appeal.
Nomeh explained that the request for a stay of execution was predicated on special circumstances, which the Federal Government intends to disclose at the Appellant court. He stressed that the Federal Government fears that if N37.6 billion was released to Odi community, it will be dissipated immediately and in the event of the government’s appeal succeeding, it will be difficult to recover the money.
But counsel to the Odi community Lawal Rabana (SAN), who was accompanied by the lead counsel, Lucius Nwosu (SAN) and, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), urged the court to disregard the Federal Government, which he insisted will not suffer any disability or disadvantage if it pays the money to the community.
Rabana argued that it will be inhumane for the Federal Government, which makes well over N37.6 billion per day and collects revenue from crude oil exploration in Odi, to thwart the release of the money to the community whose citizens have been refugees in their motherland for 13 years and their schools, homes, churches, ancestral shines have been destroyed by rampaging federal troops.
He insisted that the Odi people are entitled to the special damage of N17,618,871 and general damage of N20 billion respectively because the Federal Government cannot bring back to life those who were killed during the military invasion that took place in December 1999.
Delivering judgment after over three hours recess due to power failure, Justice Akambi, declared that the Federal Government’s application was not in good faith as it has resources and assets which far exceeds the N37.6 billion the court awarded on February 18, 2013 as compensation to the people of Odi.
He pointed out that since it has taken the community over a decade to get justice, granting the government’s request would be tantamount to further denial of justice to the community whose citizens were massacred by government troops.
The association, in a statement by its President, Mr. Ide Owodiong-Idemeko yesterday said so far the monies have not been paid and the ruling was a litmus test for President Goodluck Jonathan’s belief in the rule of law.
The NAS said the judgment was “triumph for the rule of law, fundamental human rights and democracy” and the Federal Government should ensure that it fully implemented all the terms of the judgment within the time stipulated by the court in the interest of the rule of law and equity.
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