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Court begins hearings on N100bn lawsuit against Army over Okuama community invasion

Indigenes Seek Redress for Alleged Violations of Fundamental Rights Amidst Military Conflict

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The Federal High Court in Warri, Delta State, commenced proceedings on Thursday for a significant legal battle involving indigenes of Okuama community in the Ughelli North Local Government Area. The lawsuit, valued at N100 billion, targets the Nigeria Army, accusing it of orchestrating a military invasion and subsequent destruction of the community.

The genesis of the conflict traces back to the tragic events of March 14, 2024, when 17 military officers and soldiers lost their lives during a communal clash between Okuama and the neighboring Okoloba community in the Bomadi LGA. In response, the military allegedly launched a violent incursion into Okuama, leading to widespread vandalism and devastation.

Led by plaintiffs including Victor Akemor, Madam Omotiwori Olarehor, and others, the Okuama community is seeking justice for what they deem as egregious violations of their fundamental rights. Represented by their legal counsel, Akροkονα Omafuaire, they appeared before Justice I. M. Sani to assert their claims.

The plaintiffs’ prayers encompass a range of grievances, including alleged infringements on their right to dignity, fair hearing, private and family life, freedom of movement, residency choice, and property ownership. They accuse the military of wanton destruction, looting, and intimidation, portraying their actions as oppressive and abusive.

Moreover, the community members narrate harrowing experiences of displacement and deprivation, forced to flee to various locations for safety amidst the military onslaught. Their plea to the court extends beyond monetary compensation, as they seek an order to halt further military occupation and reclaim their land for reconstruction.

As the legal battle unfolds, it underscores broader concerns regarding accountability, human rights, and the rule of law in Nigeria’s conflict-ridden regions. The outcome of this lawsuit holds implications not only for the affected community but also for the larger discourse on military conduct and civilian protection in times of strife.

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