Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the Nigerian army has no powers to declare any citizen wanted.
She gave the ruling today July 13 while delivering judgement in a suit filed by a Nigerian activist in diaspora, Issa Perry Brimah against the Nigerian Army.
Brimah filed the lawsuit after the Nigerian Army in January 2019, said it was working with INTERPOL to declare him wanted for raising funds for troops and vigilantes fighting Boko Haram insurgents in the north-east. Brimah had launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to provide food for the soldiers prosecuting the war against insurgents in the North East.
The Nigerian Army however kicked against his gesture, describing it as a fraudulent venture he, Brimah, embarked upon to “ostensibly to defraud unsuspecting members of the public, especially the international community to fund subversive activities and personal lifestyle”.
Brimah immediately instituted the lawsuit against the Army for alleged defamation. He said he was suing the Army ”on behalf of millions of disenfranchised citizens of the state who have often been intimidated and terrorized by the Nigerian army in flaunting 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”.
Delivering judgement in the case, Justice Ojukwu held that the army had no right to declare the plaintiff wanted without making a formal report to law enforcement agencies who enforce law and order.
“The army or defendant has no vires to declare the plaintiff wanted without due process of law. However, it must be stated here without equivocation that the defendant has no right to declare the plaintiff wanted without following the appropriate procedure.
The defendant cannot arrest the plaintiff 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.” she said