Nigeria's Education Minister Dragged to Court Over Assault
Nigeria's Minister of State for Education, Olorogun Ken Gbagi has been dragged before an Abuja High Court over alleged assault, battery, forcible entry and destruction of property. The Minister, who is likely to part with N25 million following the suit filed against him, is alleged to have attempted to secure a residential accommodation in the Asokoro District, Abuja. The property which is located at No. 1 Justice Roseline Ukeje Close, Asokoro, is a five-bedroom duplex with a two-room boys-quarters and a one-bedroom guest chalet. It also has a swimming pool, stand by generator, air conditioners and water borehole. Findings revealed that on September 16, 2010, the land lord through his agent, Innosbee Services Limited wrote a letter to the Minister, stating the terms and condition for the lease of the property with an expectation to pay N25.5million for two years before taking possession of the property. Gbagi, according to available court papers, paid N17million in four instalments through GTB Bank cheque No 02786130 on September 8, 2010; GTBank cheque No 02786653 on September 23, 2010 and GTBank cheque No 02786819 and N2 million cash payment through his Chief Security detail, Mr. Reginald John. It is further disclosed that on September 14, 2010 the Minister in company of his security aides visited the property, 'for the sole purpose of inspecting the level of maintenance being carried out on the property, having commenced payment on the property'.
Akinlade, the first applicant for the property and the two others through their lawyer, Barrister C. U. Peters, claim that during his visit to the property, the Minister had them beaten up while forcefully gaining entry into the property.
They prayed the court to declare that the battering and application of criminal force on Akinlade by the Minister was a gross violation of their rights to dignity, adding that the court should declare that the forcible entry into the property was a breach of the applicant's fundamental freedom of privacy.
While wanting the court to declare the destruction of doors, padlocks, security doors locks by the 1st (Gbagi), 2nd (Ministry of Education), and 3rd (The State Security Service) respondents to gain access to the property as an act of brigandage by brigands, they claimed in their affidavit that 'that the security details and the 1st respondent (Gbagi) invaded the property with their service pistols and AK47 assault rifles, which they pulled against us- staff of the 2nd applicant.'
They also asked for N20m as specific and general damages suffered by Akinlade from the assault and applying criminal force on her and another N5m as cost of repair and replacement of the destruction perpetrated by the 1st 2nd and 3rd respondents (Gbagi, Ministry of Education and States Security Services).
But Gbagi has filed a counter affidavit in the case filed against him by Mercy Akinlade Onose, Innosbee Services Ltd and Alhaji Haliru Garba for enforcement of their fundamental rights.
In a counter affidavit sworn to by Njideka Odili a lawyer in the chambers of D.D.Dodo, the respondents said: 'When the first respondent requested to be allowed to inspect the rest part of the property, the 1st applicant vehemently refused and surprisingly raised false alarms, including the use of callous language on the first respondent and his staff which led to verbal altercations between the 1st applicant and some 1st respondent staff.'
Gbagi claimed that he had concluded negotiations for the apartment before the 2nd applicant (Innosbee services Ltd) emerged and claimed to be the property manager for the second applicant.
He denied that neither he nor his agent touched and battered mercy (1st applicant) or any other person they met inside the apartments, stressing that they never broke any door or forced their way inside the apartments.