A Lagos State High Court yesterday awarded N5.5 million in damages against General Oladipo Diya in a suit filed by one Oluwatosin Onamade alleging assault and battery by Mr. Diya, who was once the second-in-command during the military dictatorship of the late General Sani Abacha.
In a ruling that took more than two hours to deliver, Justice Opeyemi Oke ruled that Mr. Diya was guilty of assault and unlawful seizure of the claimant’s property. The assault took place in 2008 while the claimant, Mr. Onamade, who was at the time the funeral director at LOTAD Mortuary Services owned by Mr. Diya, was in a contract renegotiation process with the former military honcho. Mr. Onamade told the court that Mr. Diya and other defendants brutalized him. Apart from Mr. Diya, other defendants in the lawsuit included Dele Obakoya, Emmanuel Ilori and Dele Oyesanya, all accomplices in the assault.
In 2010, Mr. Onomade had also accused Mr. Diya of trading in human parts through his LOTAD Mortuary firm.
Mr. Diya did not appear in court for once throughout the proceedings. But ruling on the assault case yesterday, Justice Oke described the arbitrary beating of Mr. Onamade by the hounds as “condemnable.” He noted that signed medical reports tendered before the court and supported by photographic evidence showed clearly that the claimant was severely battered.
“The claimant has alleged that he was assaulted by the defendants. The medical reports dated 14/10/2008 and signed by Dr. Somoye have confirmed the injury to the claimant in forehead and left hand,” said the judge. He added: “This was also backed up with photographs clearly showing that the claimant was assaulted. The defendants took [the] law into their hands and did the work of policemen. This action is condemnable and it is arbitrary use of powers.”
Although the judge conceded that the defendants had a claim of financial misappropriation against the claimant, he found that they had displayed intoxication and arbitrary use of power. He stated that the defendants could have called in the police instead of resorting to self-help.
“The alleged misappropriation could have been a subject of litigation,” said the judge, instead of the defendants assuming the role of law officers.
The judge also ordered the immediate release of all personal belongings seized from the claimant during his torture. The items include a Mercedes Benz 190 model with its key, an HP laptop DV 6000, a wedding ring, a Rolex wrist watch, Reltel Nokia mobile phone, two wooden caskets, and bags containing N72, 000 in cash as well as credentials.