The Nigerian Army has said it can not be held liable for the action of an errant Officer, as it refused payment of N150 million demanded by a student, Emmanuel Madubuezi, as damages after losing his leg to a gunshot wound inflicted on him by a soldier.
This is contained in a letter written to Madubuezi’s lawyer and signed by Brig. Gen Emmanuel Aladeniyi, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff.
In the letter with reference number AHQ DCMA/G1/300/130, the army authorities stated that the soldier who shot Madubuezi had been charged.
Narrating what transpired, the army said a soldier, Corporal Augustine Jacob, and 11 soldiers were deployed to Stalling Oil Company to provide protection for a property.
It said one Mr. Amadi illegally procured the services of Corporal Jacob and four other soldiers to settle a fracas at his Bet9ja shop at Big Tree Market in Port Harcourt.
The army said on arrival at the Bet9ja office, the corporal went upstairs while the others remained downstairs and it was at this point that a bullet was released from one of the soldiers downstairs.
It said an investigation revealed that the action of the soldier who mistakenly pulled the trigger resulted in the shooting of Madubuezi.
The victim was subsequently taken to Life Fort Hospital but could not be admitted due to limited bed space and then taken to Braithwaite and Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital before his leg was amputated at Holy Trinity Hospital on September 25, 2017.
The letter read in part, “It is imperative to point out that the soldiers’ conduct was highly unprofessional but they were acting on a frolic of their own. They were detailed to Stalling Oil Company and not Bet9ja store and his action amounted to disobedience of standing orders amongst others for which he has been duly charged and remanded by a court-martial.
“Additionally, the Nigerian Army cannot be vicariously liable for the actions of its personnel when they act on a frolic of their own. Most importantly, the offence is one that is criminal in nature as it involves the soldier and the state for which he has been accordingly charged. The outcome of the trial will be communicated to you accordingly.”
Madubuezi was on his way to his school, Port Harcourt Polytechnic, in 2017 when he was shot.
The indigene of Isikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State had told The PUNCH that on September 14, 2017, he boarded a commercial tricycle (popularly called ‘keke’) that morning to school but shortly before he got to Big Tree Market in Iwofe, from a distance, he saw some soldiers forcing some young ladies into a van.
He had said, “The tricycle rider continued the journey, and people went about their business. Then we started hearing gunshots. Suddenly, I realised that a bullet had pierced my hand and left leg. The bullet went through my leg and also hit an elderly woman sitting next to me. The impact made her fall out of the tricycle. She appeared to be in her 60s.”
The victim said after he was shot, the soldiers were informed of what they had done but they refused to help.