A Lagos-based legal practitioner and human rights activist, Mr.
Inibehe Effiong, has dragged the Nigerian Army before the National Human
Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Attorney General of the Federation
(AGF) over the refusal by the Nigerian Army Post Exchange Limited
(NAPEX), a company registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission, owned
and operated by the Nigerian Army to obey a subsisting court judgment.
In separate petitions to the National Human Rights Commission and the
Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Effiong accused the Nigerian
Army of forcefully evicting his client, taking over and destroying his
properties and arbitrarily disobeying the orders of the Federal High
The lawyer stated that his client, Chief Abayomi Akerele (carrying on
business under the name and style of JOE-YOM MARITIME SERVICES NIG.
CO.), a licensed ship chandler and a ship operator, was the original
owner of a property situated at No. 3, Eleke Crescent, (Now Walter
Carrington Crescent), Victoria Island, Lagos and was in possession of
the said land since 1975 before it was declared a federal inland
waterway following the enactment of the Inland Waterways Authority Act
No 13, of 1997 which vested the exclusive control, management and
direction of all land within 100 meters from the Federal Waterways in
the National Inland Waterways Authority.
Mr. Effiong however explained that the National Inland Waterways
Authority had regularized his client’s continued possession of the land
by giving his client necessary license and that his client was paying
rents to the Authority without any controversy but that problem stated
when the Nigerian Army Post Exchange Limited (NAPEX) became his
neighbor. NAPEX, according to the petition, forcefully trespassed on his
client’s property, demanded and compelled his client to also pay
illegal rents, taxes and charges to them despite that NAPEX, like his
client, is equally a licensee of the National Inland Waterways
Authority. He said the Army chased away his client from his properties
when his client stopped paying the illegal taxes and insisted that only
the National Inland Waterways Authority, which has lawful control over
the land, is entitled to rents from him.
The human rights activist revealed that his client obtained final
judgment in his favor and against NAPEX in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/789/05
delivered by Honorable Justice Abimbola O. Ogie of the Federal High
Court, Lagos Division, on the 6th day of August 2006 and that the appeal
filed by NAPEX was dismissed in 2009.
“In the said judgment, NAPEX being the 1st Defendant in the said suit
was affirmatively restrained from destroying the Plaintiff’s jetty,
structure and slipway or anything at all in the Plaintiff’s compound or
from exercising any further acts of control or ownership over the land
occupied by our client, in addition to the above, NAPEX was also
restrained from further harassing, disturbing, unlawfully ejecting our
client from his quiet enjoyment and or unlawfully ejecting our client
from the said land or from exercising any further acts of control or
ownership over the land.’’
“Despite the valid, subsisting and extant judgment of the Honorable
court, and in flagrant violation of the injunctive orders of court as
contained in the judgment, on the 24th March, 2012, one Brigadier
General Musibau Amolegbe of the Nigerian Army Post Exchange (NAPEX)
Limited in contempt of the Honorable Court to which he is aware of, led
stern and combatant looking soldiers to our client’s premises and
forcefully dislodged and dispossessed our client of the land’’, Effiong
NAPEX is also accused by the lawyer of erecting a signboard in front
of the property with the inscription ‘’THIS LAND BELONGS TO NIGERIAN
ARMY, KEEP OFF’’. The Army according to the petition also stationed
armed soldiers to chase away his client from the property.
Furthermore, Effiong revealed that all efforts made in the past by
the Sheriffs of the Federal High Court to enforce the judgment were
frustrated and resisted by the Army despite the fact that the National
Inland Waterways Authority supported his client in court and has given
his client the green light to resume his lawful possession of the said
property which is under the exclusive control of the Authority.
He also stated that Hon. Justice C.J. Aneke of the Federal High
Court, Lagos had on 10th March 2014 ordered thus, “ Inspector General of
Police, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (Zone 2), the
Commissioner of Police Lagos State Command, their deputies, assistants
and all other officers attached to them to assist the Registrars and
Sheriffs of this Honorable Court in the performance of executing the
judgment of the Honorable Justice Abimbola O. Ogie delivered on the
3rd day of August 2006 in favor of the Applicant in recovering
possession of the property located at No. 3B Eleke Crescent, Victoria
Effiong however expressed dismay over the refusal by the Police to
assist in enforcing the judgment despite the two requests made to the
Lagos State Commissioner of Police by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the
Federal High Court, Lagos.
According to the lawyer, his client, Chief Abayomi Akerele has lost
income and properties, including boats, office structures, damaged jetty
worth over N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) and
has been out of job for several years which has made it difficult for
his client to cater for his family.
“Sir, democracy is worthless without adherence to the Rule of Law.
Nigeria cannot progress if institutions of the state are viciously
deployed to subvert the law and oppress the weak. Our client is a law
abiding senior citizen of Nigeria who had served his country as a Naval
Officer before he disengaged from the Nigerian Air Force in 1978 and
should be accorded equal protection by the government,” Effiong said.
Copies of the petition have also been sent to the Inspector General
of Police, Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff and copied to
the Chief of Army-Civil Relations and Chief of Administration at the
Nigerian Army Headquarters.
Several documents were attached to prove the contents of the
petition, including the court judgment, order of the Court of Appeal
dismissing the appeal, video cassette showing invasion and destruction
of the property by Brigadier General Musibau Amolegbe and his men,
photograph of the signboard erected by the NAPEX and photographs showing
the current deplorable state of the jetty and boats destroyed by the
Army, among others.
The lawyer therefore appealed to the National Human Rights Commission
and the Attorney General of the Federation to assist his client to
recover possession of the property from the Army as ordered by the court
and also make NAPEX to pay the sum of N100,000,000.00 (One Hundred
Million Naira) to his client as compensation.