The hearing of the originating summons in the case against Harry Arogundade, six unknown naval ratings and the Nigeria Navy, for alleged assault on Uzoma Okere has been adjourned till 30 April.
Ms. Okere and Abdullahi Abdulazeez claiming the sum of N100 million from the defendants. It was alleged that Ms. Okere was dragged out of her car, beaten and stripped naked on September 30, 2008, by six naval officers that were part of the convoy of Mr. Arogundade, who is a rear admiral with the Nigeria Navy.
The officers were said to have descended on the complainant for not moving her car out of the way, for the Admiral’s convoy to pass along Muri Okunola way in Lagos.
At the sitting which was presided over by Justice Opeyemi Oke, at the Lagos High Court, Bolaji Ayorinde, the lawyer to the first and third defendants, told the court that he had been able to file his first set of counter affidavits, which is made up of six affidavits. A compact disk of an interview that Ms Okere granted the African Independent Television was also attached to the affidavit.
Counter Affidavits According to the counter affidavits, the incident occurred around 5.30pm, on 3 November, 2008, while Mr. Arogundade was in the car with Lanre Oshodi, in a traffic jam along Muri Okunola Street in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Mr. Arogundade was said to have been reading a newspaper while he was held up in the traffic and he only got to know about the incident from I.F. Okoloagu, his Flag Lieutenant, 10 minutes after reaching his destination.
It continued that he reprimanded Ms. Okere after she narrated her version to him. According to the counter affidavit, Ms. Okere said that “one of the escorts annoyed her by striking her car with a horsewhip, and so she alighted from her car, snatched a whip from an escort, and flogged the rating in retaliation.
Ms. Okere justified her actions, citing democracy and the fact that her father is an Army Colonel.” The defendants also stated in the counter affidavit that during this time, Ms. Okere called her father on the phone and he apologised and begged for the release of his daughter after the incident was related to him.
It also alleged that the father of the first claimant sent a text to the first defendant saying “Many thanks. Kindly confirm if there is any further development. Am unable to reach my daughter.”
The affidavit concluded that Mr. Arogundade “did not order, encourage, direct or instruct the second respondent (the six naval officers) to beat, hit, harass torture, humiliate and or traumatize the applicants, and that it is untrue for the applicants to say that they lost several valuables or sustained injuries arising from the incidence.” The affidavit also stated that the first, second or third respondents believe that they are not liable to the applicants as per the claims in their originating summons.
Hearing continues Mr. Ayorinde also apologised to the court for not being able to file a written address. He said, “we apologise to the applicants for not being able to file a written address because we intend, with the kind permission of the court to file some other counter affidavits.”
The lawyer to the claimants, O.O. Rotimi, from the Office of the Public Defender, acknowledged the receipt of the counter affidavit and the compact disk, but prayed for time to read it, to know if there would be a need to file a counter affidavit.
The lawyer to the defendant also prayed for 30 days to file the other counter affidavit. The matter was adjourned to April 30 on the condition that all the processes should have been served by both parties, so that the originating summons would be heard at the next date.