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Court grants communities leave to evaluate damage by JTF

Asaba—The Federal High Court in Asaba yesterday granted leave to estate agents and valuers engaged by 52 Ijaw communities to assess property damaged by the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the area.

The 52 communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom had in July 2009 instituted a N100 billion suit against the Federal Government challenging the May 13, 2009 invasion of the areas by the JTF.

The suit filed on their behalf by Chief Femi Falana, leading Chief Felude Zimughan and Selekeowei Larry, sought for damages for lives and property “wantonly destroyed” by the military operations.

The communities also prayed the Justice Ibrahim Buba court to compel the Federal Government to rebuild the houses demolished during the bombardment.
At Friday’s hearing, Buba ordered that the communities be permitted to assess and carry out valuation of property or properties said to have been destroyed on or about May 13, 2009 by the JTF.

The communities, through counsel Zimughan, had told the court that armed military men of the JTF were still in occupation of the territory in which the applicants were located.

Zimughan said that the estate valuers commissioned by the 52 Ijaw communities required the protection of the court to have unrestricted access to the property without fear of molestation or intimidation.

He said that the claims and reliefs sought by the applicants were such that expert evidence was necessary to determine the actual losses suffered as a result of the military bombardment of their communities.

Buba, who granted the reliefs sought by the applicants, said: “The application is granted as prayed” and adjourned the matter to May 24 for further hearing.

He ordered that the experts commissioned by the affected communities should enter the areas to assess and carry out valuation of property said to have been destroyed on May 13 by the JTF.

The counsel to the Federal Government, Mr Emmanuel Okosun, had earlier told the court that his clients were not opposed to the application and would go into the substantive matter.


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