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Naval Officer Sues in-law, Demands N100 Million

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Hearing would commence Thursday 4th July 2024 on a Suit filed in the High Court of Federal Capital Territory Abuja, in the Maitama Judiciary Division by Commodore Kennedy Ozokoye of Nigerian Navy (Claimant), against Mr. Tochukwu Onovo, a civil servant with Ministry of Agriculture, Lafia, Nasarawa State.

Kennedy Ozokoye alleged “defamation of character, demanding a general damage in the sum of One hundred million Naira (N100, 000,000.00) only from his brother-in-law who had petitioned to the Naval authority alleging brutalization and threat to life by the Officer.

The Hearing which was in November 2023 slated for 5th February 2024, initially got delayed due plea by Claimant’s legal counsel suffered another deferment due ill-health of Honourable Judge, Justice B. Hassan, sitting in Jabi-Abuja as parties in Court were informed by court Clark who asked Counsel to take dates.

Commodore Kennedy Ozokoye, a Distinguished Service Star (DSS) Medalist and Fellow of the Defense College approached the Court through Anayo Adibe, Basil Nweke and Oluwasina (Mrs.), legal counsels of Anayo Adibe & Partners legal firm deposing that the defendant, in letter dated 2nd November 2023, petitioned the Nigerian Navy and referred to the Claimant as “irresponsible and unworthy of occupying any position of authority” saying that it was “Malicious, injurious and libelous of the Claimant”.

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The statement of claims also contained the demanded that general damage against the “Defendant for deformation of character, mental agony, humiliation and emotional stress resulting from the Defendant’s defamatory publication of a defamatory statement against the Claimant dated 17th day of April 2023”.

In his own defense, Tochukwu Onovo, through his counsel, Barrister Godwin Sunday Ogboji of Aquilae LP Chambers, Mediators deposed that “Our client is a brother-in-law to the Navy Capt. Kennedy Ozokoye, (before promotion) “Who is using his position as Naval Officer and Naval personal to harass, intimidate and is constantly threatening the life of our client and family”.

In the complaints letter to The Chief of Naval Staff, Defense Headquarters, Abuja dated 2nd November 2022, Samuel Apenpuun, Esquire, pleaded that “It is our client wish that you invoke the provisions of the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 (Relations between Armed Forces and civil courts and finality of trials etc.) which does not allow the military personnel to interfere in civilian matters as applied to the issue on ground”.

They averred, “Navy Commodore Kennedy Ozokoye is not supposed to act in the manner he is interfering “in the in-law’s matters.According to documents deposed at Jabi-Abuja Court by defendant’s Counsel and made available to Journalists, revealed that “Our client’s wife put to birth of their third child on 11th October 2021 and shortly after, they started having some internal problems”.

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The intervention of Commodore Kennedy Ozokoye, then Navy captain who allegedly threatened the life of his in-law (Tochukwu Onovo) and actions of allegedly sending four Picks-up load of Ozokoye and the marriage is blessed with four female children.

According to petition to Chief of Naval Staff, Defence Headquarters by Tochukwu Onovo through his Counsel, Samuel Apenpuun Esq., of Aquilae LP law firm dated 2nd November 2022 the Defendant complained of alleged “Threat to life and abuse of power against Navy Commodore Ozokoye”.

The letter alleged, “That our client’s wife put to bed of their third child on 11th October 2021 and shortly after, they started having some internal problems.

“The problem was aggravated as soon as our client’s mother-in-law came to nurse the baby (called Omugwo).

“That due to unresolved issues and constant provocations in the presence of his mother-in-law our client asked his mother-in-law to take her daughter along with her home anytime she is leaving that he will give her a break of six months so that time will heal some of the lingering issues.

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“That on 11th December 2021 when the taxi driver came to drop our client’s wife and his mother-in-law a the Peace Mass Transport Part, Utako, to our client’s greatest surprise, the Capt. Kennedy Ozokoye had arranged a Toyota Hilux van loaded with four fiery soldiers who came to the park charging and ferociously looking for our client with the slogan ‘where is the bastard?”

Among other allegations there-in, the petitioner requested The Chief Naval Staff to; “On basis of this, it is our client’s wish that you invoke the provisions of the Armed forces Act Cap A20 (Relations between Armed Forces and civil courts and finality of trials etc.) which does not allow the military personnel to interfere in civil matters as applied to the issue on ground.”

The action of petitioning to the Navy did not go down well with Commodore Ozokoye who then approached the Court for redress with basket full of demands.

Twice the matter has been deferred for hearing before Honorable Justice B. Hassan of Jabi-Abuja Federal court.

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Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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