The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has ordered the Nigerian Navy to pay N75 million to a 39-year-old bricklayer, Mr. Etim Asuquo Akpan, as damages for illegal shooting and torture.
Akpan, an indigene of Akwa Ibom State, had taken the Nigerian Navy and others to court in 2013 for shooting him in both legs, torturing him and holding him hostage by chaining him to the hospital bed of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) for seven months.
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.
However, Akpan said it was members of a nearby church that rescued him and took him to the UCTH for treatment and when the naval personnel realised he was in the hospital, they went to the hospital and chained him to his bed and even tortured him for seven months but when was discharged, the naval men disappeared, hence the legal action.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his judgment yesterday, 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, noting that if such trend is encouraged, every citizen would be a potential victim of such brutality.
Ekwo, who dismissed the arguments that the naval personnel was attached to the Quick Intervention Squad of the state and therefore not a liability of the Nigerian Navy, said such an act could not 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 naval personnel.
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. We are taking it the way the court has given it. On appeal, we have got no instructions from our clients to that effect.”
Akpan’s lawyer, Mr. Albert Ben, said they were approached in 2013 and they had to take up the case because it is the right of every citizen to be protected no matter their status.