By ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH
LAGOS — Five years after he was accused of assaulting and battering one of his employees, Mr. Oluwatosin Onamade, the former Chief of General Staff, CGS, Gen. Oladipupo Diya was, yesterday, ordered by an Ikeja High Court, to pay the victim the sum of N5.5million compensation.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Opeyemi Oke, the judge ordered the former CGS and other directors of his company, Lotad Funeral Services Ltd, to pay the damages as compensation, while declaring the action of defendants as an act of impunity.
Justice Oke held, that “the action of the defendants is condemnable; it is an arbitrary use of power.”
The trial judge said it was wrong for the defendants “to assault, batter and unlawfully seize the belongings of his employee” when they attempted to force him to sign a backdated resignation letter on July 31, 2008.
The court held that the defendants took the law into their hands by taking up the work of the police.
The court slammed Diya and four other directors of the company who were “jointly and severally” held liable for the assault and battering of the claimant.
Others affected by the judgment are Messrs. Kehinde Diya, Dele Obakoya, Emmanuel Ilori and Dele Oyesanya.
Only one person, Kehinde, a lawyer, testified against the victim over a fraud allegation while the trial lasted.
Onamade had claimed that he was assaulted when he refused to compulsorily sign a resignation letter based on alleged fraud, while he was still owed by the company.
Justice Oke held that the notice of resignation given to the claimant was in breach of the six-month notice provided for in his letter of appointment.
According to her: “If they had given him the notice six months earlier, the claimant would have had no choice other than to pack his things and leave.”
She ordered the defendants to immediately return the claimant’s belongings unlawfully seized from him, comprising Mercedes Benz 190 model car with keys; HP laptop DV 6000; wedding ring and Rolex wrist-watch.
Other items are Reltel Nokia Mobile Phone; 6280 Nokia phone, N76 and two wooden caskets.
The court also directed them to return to Onamade a bag containing N72,000 cash, personal documents/credentials, complimentary cards, file and seal stamp.
Taking a departure from the arguments of the defendant, the court stated, the allegation of fraud levelled against the claimant was the duty of the police to investigate.
She added that the move by the defendants and allegations made were afterthoughts after they had been served with the court action.