Unlawful Road Blockage: Court Awards N10.6m in Favour of Veteran Journalist

* Blames NNPC for accident

By Alex Enumah

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday awarded the sum of N10.6 million damages in favour of a veteran journalist, Geoffrey Anika, in his suit against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the construction of a concrete barrier that caused his accident.

The corporation had, in response to threat of attack by Boko Haram terrorists, erected concrete barricades on the highway leading to its headquarters in Abuja, without necessary road signs, which according to the plaintiff, resulted in a ghastly motor accident involving his Peugeot 406 with registration number DP 41 EKY in 2012.

Delivering judgment in the suit on Monday, Justice Babatunde Quadri agreed with the plaintiff that the NNPC was negligent in blocking the high way without necessary road signs as required by law.

The judge held that the evidence of the plaintiff’s witnesses that concrete barricades were placed on the highway by the NNPC to avert possible attack from Boko Haram terrorists were not faulted.

Justice Quadri further held that the claims of the plaintiff regarding the accident and the documents were not controverted by the NNPC nor its witnesses.

The judge rejected the claim of the NNPC that the federal government through the National Security Adviser was responsible for the placing of the concrete barricades around the NNPC towers without road signs, adding that throughout the proceedings, no single witness was invited to substantiate the claim.

Justice Quadri further rejected another claim by the NNPC that recklessness and over speeding on the part of the plaintiff was responsible for the accident.

The judge said that the totality of evidence from the side of the police indicated that the accident was caused along with four others by the unlawful placement of concrete barricades on the road.

The judge therefore awarded N5.1 million in favour of the plaintiff, being the cost of damaged vehicle, another N5 million as special damages, while N500,000 was granted as the cost of litigation.

Anika had in the suit had prayed the court to compel the NNPC to pay him a sum of N50 million as damages for allegedly causing him a ghastly accident.

The plaintiff, in the statement of claims filed by his counsel, Mr. Malachy Nwaekpe, alleged that the NNPC without any road sign or warning signals placed concrete barricades on the highways in front of its multi-billion towers in Abuja.

In his statement of claim, the veteran broadcaster claimed that on April 1, 2012, he drove on the highway in front of the NNPC towers to his Radio House Office without any form of concrete barriers on the road.

He averred that while returning from work on the same day around 11pm, his Peugeot 406 car with registration No. DP 41 EKY was involved in a ghastly accident caused by the concrete barricades allegedly placed on the road by the NNPC officials to safeguard the towers at the expense of the road users without any road signs or warning signal.

The plaintiff claimed that it took the intervention of the public spirited Nigerians who rushed him to a General Hospital while the car got damaged beyond repairs by the concrete barriers.

He further contended that all efforts to make NNPC compensate him on the incurred medical expenses and damage to his car were rebuffed by the corporation.

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