Victory came the way of the people of Gbaramatu communities of Delta State from the United Kingdom where a London Court on Monday, January 18, entered judgment in their favour to register the judgment of a Federal High Court, Asaba which ordered the Federal Government to pay them N99.9 billion damages for gross violation of their rights by the Joint Task Force in the state, According to the Sun Newspaper.
In the judgment, Mr Justice of Holroyde of the Queen’s Bench Division of the Royal High Court of Justice England and Wales ordered that the judgment of Justice Ibrahim Buba in December 2013 be registered in England against Major General Sarkin Yarkin Bello (now retired), who was the commander of the Delta Joint Task Force.
The task force, on May 5, 2009 descended on the community killing, maiming innocent residents while property worth billions of naira were equally destroyed.
In response, the communities filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Asaba on June 22, 2009.
Their lawyer, Mr Selekeowei Larry (SAN) filed the suit against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and Major General Sarkin Yarkin Bello (for himself and on behalf of the Joint Task Force in Delta State) as first, second and third defendants respectively.
The people, among other reliefs, asked the court to declare the bombardment unconstitutional and a gross violation of their rights.
After hearing the plaintiffs and the defendants, Justice Ibrahim Buba held as follows: “That the bombardment of the plaintiffs’ communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta by the defendants resulting in the demolition/destruction of houses, household furniture/wares, boats, canoes, domestic animals and displacement of members of the communities is in violation of section 217 (2)(c) of the 1999 Constitution and is, therefore, unconstitutional.
“That the sum of N49 billion is awarded in favour of the plaintiffs as special damages against the defendants jointly severally.
“That the sum of N50 billion is also awarded as aggravated and punitive damages against the defendants jointly and severally for the unlawful bombardment and sacking of the plaintiffs’ communities which resulted in wanton destruction of their houses, household furniture and other wares, their domestic animals, canoes, boats, sacred places, artifacts etc and which resulted in total displacement of members of the communities for minimum of three months from May 15, 2009, the effect of which was that members of the communities were living in the swampy mangrove forests in subhuman conditions while others were in a concentration camp and suffered loss of income, disease, and mental torture and the education of their children of school age was disrupted.”
Before applying to the Queen Bench Division High Court of Justice in London to register the judgment, the communities wrote twice to the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke SAN, asking the Federal Government to comply with the judgment.
However, two years after the judgment was delivered the government neither complied with the judgment nor challenged it on appeal.