Justice Folashade Ojo of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has fixed May 18 for judgment in a N500m suit instituted against the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh.
The suit, FCT/HC/CV/4248/2011, was filed in 2011 by owners and some employees of British Nigerian Academy, Abuja, against Metuh, his wife, Kanayo and one of their aides, Oche Gambo.
The plaintiffs sued Metuh and the two other defendants for allegedly assaulting two of the school’s employees on February 19, 2011.
Metuh, whose son, Derrick, was formerly a pupil in the school, was said to have driven roughly into the school premises after getting a report that an employee of the school confiscated Derrick’s mobile telephone while the boy was on a visit to the school.
Metuh’s and Derrick were said to have visited her nephew, Kamsi Aghaji, a pupil in the school, when an official of the school, Miss. Amauche Igbe, claimed to have seen Derrick giving his phone to some pupils in the boys’ hostel , in violation of the school rules.
The plaintiffs – British Nigerian Academy, Kola Pele and Hamzat Maftau – said, in an amended statement of claim that Kanayo called her husband after she did not succeed in her effort to retrieve her son’s phone.
They stated that, “The 1st defendant (Metuh) alighted from his vehicle at the entrance of the Sports Hall of the 1st plaintiff (the school) and demanded to see the 2nd plaintiff (Pele) and, upon locating the 2nd plaintiff, the 1st defendant demanded forcefully, that his son’s phone be returned to him with immediate effect, but the 2nd plaintiff refused to release the phone.
“The 1st defendant then proceeded to grab the throat of the 2nd plaintiff and started to hit him several times with the 3rd defendant (Gambo, Metuh’s bodyguard) joining in the assault in the presence of a large crowd of staff, students and parents, who looked on worrying and in great fear.
“The 1st defendant, on several occasions, threatened to kill the 2nd plaintiff if his son’s phone was not returned to him and boasted that even the Inspector General of Police would do nothing about the situation.
“At one point, the 1st defendant and 3rd defendant even attempted to bundle the 2nd plaintiff into the 1st defendant’s car and but, for the intervention of the staff of the 1st plaintiff, who were at the scene they would have succeeded in doing so.”
They argued that the actions of the 1st and 3rd defendants “undermined the right of staff of the 1st plaintiff to work in a safe and secure environment without fear and intimidation from any quarters.”
The plaintiffs sought an award of 150m for special and general damages for assault, harassment, intimidation, mental pain, severe humiliation and injury to the person and personal integrity of Pele and Maftau.
They sought N100m for exemplary damages for trespass and unlawful entry into the school premises.
They also sought N250m aggravated damages for grave injury caused to the commercial reputation and protective integrity of the school.
They also seek declaration that the actions of defendants on February 19, 2011 at the school amounted to trespass and unlawful entry to the plaintiffs’ school premises.
In their statement of defence, Metuh and his wife denied the plaintiffs’ allegation and urged the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the claims were frivolous and vindictive.
Metuh admitted being informed of the seizure of his son’s phone by his wife, but denied forcefully invading the school premises with armed security personnel, who drove recklessly, as alleged by the plaintiffs.
Parties adopted their final written addresses on March 10 following which the judge adjourned till May 18 for judgment.