The Nigerian army on Thursday asked an Abuja Federal High Court to dismiss N100 million claim over illegal detention by Lance Cpl. Michael Emefik.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Emefik, a soldier with Nigerian Army School of Medical Sciences had on Jan. 9 sued the army over illegal detention.
Emefik’s counsel, Adejoh Jibrin, in his submission said that his client had been in illegal detention at the Mogadishu Cantonment, Asokoro, Abuja, since Jan. 21, 2013.
However, the army through its counsel, Mr L.N Ezionye, in a counter-affidavit on Thursday, asked the court to dismiss the applicant’s claims.
Ezionye said that the applicant was not entitled to any of the reliefs he sought for.
“Granting the applicant’s application will be prejudicial to the respondents and so it would be in the interest of justice to dismiss this application,’’ he argued.
Ezionye said that Emefik had engaged in series of military offences ranging from “insubordinate behaviour, fighting, quarrelling and disorderly behaviour and disobedient to standing order’’.
He said that the soldier was invited to the army headquarters for questioning on the said offences but he could not give satisfactory answers which warranted his detention.
“The applicant, being a serving soldier, is subject to military law and discipline and we, therefore, urge your lordship to so hold and dismiss this application,’’ he said.
Ezionye said that Emefik was already facing a military court-marshal and so the court was deprived of jurisdiction to entertain the suit or order his release from detention.
NAN reports that Jibrin had earlier at the mention of the case in February, prayed the court to order Emefik’s immediate release from “unlawful arrest and detention by officers of the Nigerian Army’’.
He said that the order became necessary following the refusal of the army’s authority to release the applicant after more than one year of repeated demand.
Jibrin also prayed the court to declare that the continuous detention of his applicant “is unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void’’.
He asked the court to compel the respondents to pay N100 million as general damages jointly and severally to his client for the treatment meted out on him.
The applicant’s counsel further told the court that his client’s only “offence’’ was that he got wind of an illicit affair going on between his wife and his superior officer, who is a serving colonel.
He said the applicant reported the case to the appropriate authorities and tendered a letter dated March 24, 2010, as exhibit.
Jibrin claimed that the colonel used his influence and contacts in the Nigerian Army to victimise him.
The applicant’s counsel said that his client was merely invited from his base at the Ojo Military Cantonment, Lagos, via a signal he got from the army to report to Abuja on the Jan. 13, 2013.
He said that he was arrested upon arrival in Abuja and later detained since Jan. 21, 2013 in the guardroom without being told his offence.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned the case to April 30 for hearing in the substantive suit.