A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, will on Wednesday decide whether to grant a stay of execution on the judgement it gave earlier about Odi Community in Bayelsa State.
Governor Dickson of Bayelsa State
The court earlier ruled in favour of Odi.
Justice Lambo Akanbi had in February ordered the Nigerian Government to pay N37.6 billion as damages to the residents of Odi following the invasion of the community by soldiers in 1999, leading to several deaths and destruction of property.
Following the killing of 12 policemen by armed gangs based in Odi on November 5, 1999, the Olusegun Obasanjo administration deployed soldiers to the town on November 20, 1999.
Three days later the town was completely left in ruins.
Alongside the demand for compensation, the community demanded for the Federal Government to issue a public apology for the total destruction and the loss of over 1000 lives.
It also asked the court to order the Federal Government to rebuild the community.
While delivering the judgement, Mr. Akanbi berated the government for the "brazen violation of the fundamental human rights of the victims to movement, life and to own property and live peacefully in their ancestral home."
He said the soldiers completely destroyed the town.
He dismissed the argument of counsels to government that no inhabitant of the community was killed except members of the armed gangs and that no property was destroyed as untrue.
Mr Akanbi said no compensation was enough to repair the loss suffered by the people but that he arrived at the compensation based of the estimate provided by professional valuers.
The Federal Government has applied for stay of execution of the judgement pending its appeal at the Court of Appeal.
The government argued, among others, that should the money be paid and the appeal successful, the judgement of the appellate court would be rendered null and void.
The counsels for the Odi community argued that even if the federal government pays, and the appeal succeeds, the government has enough money and cannot be harmed by the action.
The judge, Mr. Akanbi, stood the case down till 2p.m. for judgement on whether to grant the stay of execution of the judgement.