I Don’t Care – LG Chair
story by crossriverwatch admin
Mrs. Virginia Okoi Chinedu, a mother of three and teacher at the Holy Child Convent Primary School, Ugep has sued the Executive Chairman of Yakurr Local Government for N50m for allegedly assaulting her physically and sexually.
Joining the Yakurr Local Government Council as 2nd Defendant in Suit No HUG/24/2012, filed in the High Court of Cross River State, Ugep Judicial Division on August 24, 2012, the Claimant, Mrs. Virginia Okoi made thirty six claims including that:
The Claimant avers that on the 18th of July, 2012 at about 2.30pm, the Claimant was battered by the 1st Defendant at the official residence of the Chairman of Yakurr Local Government Area Council, Ugep where the Claimant had been directed to see the 1st Defendant concerning the withholding of her two months (April and May 2012) salaries on the prompting or instigation or directive or order of the 1st Defendant in his capacity as the Chairman of the 2nd Defendant.
The Claimant avers that there was no reason whatsoever given by the 2nd Defendant for the withholding of her salary for April and May 2012 as she had no disciplinary problem to warrant the withholding of her salary.
The Claimant avers that the withholding of her salary was an act of oppression and vindictiveness on the part of the 1st Defendant to break her after she spurned the amorous advances and suggestions of the 1st Defendant.
The Claimant avers that the 1st Defendant does not use his office as the Chairman of the 2nd Defendant but rather prefers to use his official residence as his office to carry out his schedule as Chairman of the 2nd Defendant.
The Claimant avers that the 1st Defendant had previously invited her to see him at Hill Top Hotel (Guest House) Ugep, over the matter which she refused to honour because she considered it not appropriate for the 1st Defendant to be inviting her to a hotel to discuss an official matter such as the non payment of her salary.
The Claimant avers that this was what informed her decision to go to the official residence of the 1st Defendant to see the 1st Defendant on the 18th of July, 2012.
The Claimant avers that on reaching the residence of the 1st Defendant, she met two police officers at the gate who upon inquiry told the Claimant that the 1st Defendant was at home.
The Claimant on entering the compound or residence of the 1st Defendant met two security officers who permitted and cleared her to see the 1st Defendant.
The 1st Defendant was sitting at the balcony of his residence and as the Claimant was walking towards the 1st Defendant, the Claimant heard the 1st Defendant shouting on top of his voice “go back”.
The Claimant avers that she thought the 1st Defendant was talking to the two men who were behind her.
The 1st Defendant stood aggressively and menacingly walking towards the Claimant and the two other men still shouting “go back”.
In a split second, the 1st Defendant pounced on the Claimant and dealt a resounding slap on the left hand side of the Claimant’s face. The 1st Defendant then pounced on the Claimant, holding her by her shoulders and shoved her unto the ground. Due to the slap unleashed by the 1st Defendant, the Claimant’s left ear started bleeding profusely.
The 1st Defendant thundered “thank God people are here, I would have killed you and thrown you away and nobody will see your corpse then I will see how you’ll come and collect your seized salary, I will ensure you starve with your children”.
The Claimant was thereafter rescued by the security people in the residence. The Claimant sustained bruises all over her face as a result of the impact of the slap and rough shoving by the 1st Defendant.
After a day of the incident, the 1st Defendant visited the home of the Claimant with a retinue of personal aides to plead that the Claimant forgives him.
The 1st Defendant pleaded that he was suffering from a troubled conscience after realizing that the Claimant was unfairly treated and humiliated by him. The 1st Defendant offered the sum of N15, 000 to the Claimant which he said the Claimant should use for her treatment.
The Claimant avers that when the gravity of what the 1st Defendant did dawned on him, he quickly pleaded with some of his political friends and associates including Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa, Member of the House of Representatives (Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency) to intercede and prevail on the Claimant to simmer down.
A meeting was called by Hon. Bassey Ewa in the office of the Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in the State at the PDP state secretariat, Calabar on or about the 24th of July, 2012. The 1st Defendant attended the meeting but the Claimant turned down the entreaties of the 1st Defendant and his friends not to take action against the 1st Defendant.
The Claimant avers that the 1st Defendant looked down on her and considered her an object of his sexual curiosity and fantasies hence the 1st Defendant’s hostility towards her which culminated in the malicious and vicious assault, dehumanization and battery on the 18th of July, 2012.
The 1st Defendant has a reputation of being violent and unruly. Since his assumption of office he has assaulted and beaten up several people including Augustine Omini Iwara (Hydro), Felix Okoi Uket, Marshal Ofem, Eclipses Ofem, etc.
Crossriverwatch gathered that Mrs. Okoi reported the matter to the Ugep Police where the Divisional Police Officer, DPO invited her and took her statement but since then, the police have not been able to invite the Chairman to give account of his actions.
Mrs. Okoi also wrote a petition to the wife of the Cross River State Governor, Mrs. Obioma Imoke. But the Cross River First Lady and other political leaders in the state are said to be routing for an out of court settlement which Mrs. Okoi has refused.
She is now through her solicitors Obono, Obono and Associates praying the court for:
1. A declaration that the assault, battery and dehumanization unleashed by the 1st Defendant at the official residence of the Chairman of the Yakurr Local Government Area on the Claimant on the 18th of July, 2012 amount to abuse of the dignity of her person and degrading treatment by virtue of Section 34, Subsection 1 (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered and amended).
2. A declaration that the violent, cruel and unbecoming behavior of the 1st Defendant by the unprovoked assault and battery and dehumanization of the Claimant by the 1st Defendant is wanton, sadistic, thuggish, brutish, immoral, disgraceful and is unbecoming of a public official.
3. A declaration that sexual advances or suggestions made to the claimant by the 1st Defendant including an invitation that the Claimant should see him at Hill Top Hotel (Guest House), Ugep to discuss an official matter concerning the withholding of the salary of the Claimant by the 2nd Defendant prompted the assault on the Claimant by the 1st Defendant and thereby amounts to discrimination against the Claimant on ground of gender; constitutes an infraction of the fundamental rights of the Claimant not to be discriminated against on grounds of gender as guaranteed by Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
4. A declaration that the withholding of the two months salary of the Claimant by the 2nd Defendant at the prompting or instigation or directive or order of the 1st Defendant because of the refusal of the Claimant to surrender or accept the amorous or immoral advances of the 1st Defendant is unbecoming, wanton, illegal and wrongful.
5. General/Exemplary Damages of N50 million for the violation of the fundamental rights of the Claimant and respect for the dignity of her person and freedom from discrimination on grounds of gender as secured and guaranteed by sections 34, Subsection 1(a) and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and assault and battery unleashed on the person of the Claimant by the 1st Defendant.
6. An order directing the 1st Defendant to render an unreserved apology in the form to be approved by the Counsel to the Claimant within 48 (forty-eight) hours of the delivery of judgment in this case.
However, the Chairman of Yakurr Local Government Council, Chief Ubi Itam Ettah in a telephone interview with crossriverwatch told us that “I have not been served with any court processes by my lawyers and since I haven’t been served I cannot say I know I have been sued for anything”.
When crossriverwatch asked whether he truly has a reputation for beating up people since he resumed office as claimed by Mrs. Okoi in her suit and if he was still feeling any remorse for his actions, the Chairman yelled “I don’t care!” and cut the call. All attempts to reach him back were rejected by the Chairman.
But Women Arise, a women’s right organization has told crossriverwatch that “a team will be dispatched to Ugep to ascertain the facts of the matter and we will stand by Mrs. Okoi and ensure that she not only gets justice from the court but will also ensure that the randy LG Chairman is punished for his escapades”.
President of Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin told crossriverwatch in a statement that “Women Arise condemns the act of harassment and assault on Mrs. Virginia Okoi by the Yakurr Local Government Chairman. That kind of practice is damaging and a violation of the fundamental rights of not only Mrs. Okoi but of all women in the country. Women Arise will not hesitate to stand by her in her court action. The Court should also take note that the entire country is watching to see what the decision of the court will be. We must make sure justice is done in this matter so that it will serve as deterrence to others who take pleasure in exploiting vulnerable women because they are in privileged positions”.
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