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NIGERIA: Court Throws out FG’s Move to Stop N37.6bn Compensation

The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt Tuesday threw out a motion by the federal government seeking a stay of execution on the judgment by a Federal High Court which ordered the government to pay N37.6 billion compensation to the people of Odi community in Bayelsa State for the invasion of the community.

The three judges, Justices Ejembi Eko, Iheme Nwosu and J. Adda, threw out the motion by the federal government on the grounds of incompetency.

Responding to the development, one of the counsel to Odi community, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe, said the court advised the counsel to the federal government to take advantage of the rule of the court if they were willing to go for an out of court settlement.

Adedipe said his clients were waiting. According to him, they would also welcome an out-of-court settlement.

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt had on March 13 struck out a bid by the federal government not to pay the N37.6 billion compensation to the people of Odi community as ordered by the court.

The court, presided over by Justice Lambo Akambi, ruled that the federal government’s application for a stay of execution of the judgment it entered on February 18 was frivolous and lacked merit.

Akanbi also ruled that the application of the federal government was not in good faith as the state had enough resources to pay the damages.

The federal government had, through its counsel, Mr. Michael  Nomeh, who held brief for Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), urged the court to grant a stay of execution on the N37.6 billion damage the court awarded to Odi community pending the determination of its appeal.

He expressed the fear that it would be difficult to retrieve the N37.6 billion from the people of the community if its appeal succeeds.

But the people of Odi community, through their counsel, Lawal Rabana (SAN), argued that the federal government’s application should not be granted as the people of the community had gone through pains for years on account of the recklessness of the government.

Rabana, accompanied by the lead counsel, Lucius Nwosu (SAN) and Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), also noted that the damages would not bring back to life those who died during the invasion, adding that the people were entitled to the compensation as ordered by the court.

The move Tuesday was another attempt by the federal government to evade the payment of compensation to the community.

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