In a landmark ruling, the Federal High Court holden in Abuja has declared that just like civilians cannot declare other citizens wanted, the Nigerian Army lacks the power to declare citizens of the Nigerian state wanted.
The court ruled: “The Army or Defendant has no vires to declare the Plaintiff wanted without due process of law.”
In the legal Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/267/2019 in which Dr. Issah Perry Brimah defeated the Nigerian Army on its attempt to defend the declaration of citizens wanted, Honorable Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in her ruling on May 4th of 2020 stated as quoted:
“However, it must be stated here without equivocation that the defendant (Nigeria Army) has no right to declare the Plaintiff (Dr.. Perry Brimah) wanted without following the appropriate procedure. The Defendant (Nigeria Army) cannot arrest the Plaintiff ( Dr. Brimah) arbitrarily without making a formal report to law enforcement agency with the mandate to enforce law and order, otherwise it would transmute to self-help. The duty of the defendant is to make a formal report to the appropriate authority like the police and await the outcome.”
It is recollected that on January 1st of 2019, the Nigerian Army sent out a press release published by some misinformed newspapers and still viewable on their FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/NigerianArmy/posts/be-wary-of-fraudulent-fund-raising-by-doctor-perry-brimah-to-feed-nigerian-army-/1767304993381818/ ) in which the tax-payer funded institution attempted to declare Dr. Issah Perry Brimah wanted for seeking to raise funds for the feeding of reported suffering and dying troops and vigilantes battling Boko Haram terrorists in the nation’s north east.
Dr. Brimah proceeded to drag the Nigerian Army to the Federal High court for abuse of authority and sue them for defamation at the FCT High Court “on behalf of millions of disenfranchised citizens of the state who have often been intimidated and terrorized by the Nigerian army in flaunt of the constitution by act of willfully declaring citizens wanted and making arrests within the democratic space in the stead of the police, the formal law enforcers” as Dr Brimah put it.
Further speaking on his historic victory, Dr. Brimah said,
“We are a civil society and a democratic state. The Nigerian army has no role in arresting civilians, in brutalizing us at petrol stations, forcing us to lie on our backs and look at the sun. It is time we catch up with the reality of the time. We are not under the military junta authoritarian rule. Under a civilian administration, the army has no right to mount road blocks and arrest or declare citizens wanted. This is the role of the police –– law enforcers. We all know soldiers are not trained to document arrests and lay out charges in court. Soldiers are not equipped with handcuffs. How then can they make arrests and declare citizens wanted? That’s why they bundle us and throw us down, causing bodily harm in the process. This is why I through my able attorney, Kashopefoluwa Olawale, Balogun Esq., ensured to defeat them in court and have also proceeded to sue them for defamation and damages.
“Where the army results to “self-help” as the Honorable Justice Ojukwu declared and thuggery, it is our civic duty to tame them and bring them to order and account with the aid of the legal system and constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.”
“I hope this judgment will serve as a focal point to outlaw the wanton abuse of power by the Nigerian Army and help free and empower citizens across the nation from north to south who have oft been abused and terrorized by lawless legally armed men on our payroll, whose duty is to obey the law and protect and not terrorize us.”
The full text of the 16-page ruling as obtained on July 2nd can be read as attached.