A former senator from Akwa Ibom State, Anietie Okon, has filed an appeal against a court judgment which ordered him to pay N100, 000 to a newspaper vendor whom he allegedly assaulted in the state.
The newspaper vendor, Ndifreke Etim, had accused Mr. Okon of slapping him in September 2015 at the Akwa Ibom Government House, Uyo, where he went to sell newspapers.
Mr. Etim, a vendor in the Government House, said he did not know why the former senator picked on him, among other newspaper vendors who were within the premises.
Mr. Etim claimed three able-bodied men, who may have been Mr. Okon’s bodyguards, stood by to watch as the former senator attacked him.
A High Court judge in Uyo, Justice Winifred Effiong, after listening to a civil suit filed in 2016 by Mr. Etim against Mr. Okon, held that the action of the former senator was degrading, and that it was against Mr. Etim’s right to the dignity of his person as guaranteed by Section 34(1) of the Constitution, as well as the African Charter on Human and people’s right.
The court, besides granting an order that Mr. Okon should pay N100, 000 as damages to Mr. Etim, also granted an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the former senator or his agents from further breaching the applicant’s fundamental human rights.
It also ordered the former senator to pay additional N50, 000 as the cost of the litigation to Mr. Etim.
Mr. Okon’s lawyer, Ekemini Udim, told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday, that his client had gone to the Court of Appeal, Calabar, to challenge the judgment of the trial court, which he said was given in error.
The former senator is saying there was no proof that he infringed on the fundamental human rights of the vendor.
He said Mr. Etim mostly relied on newspaper report as a “proof” that he was assaulted.
“No matter how small the money (for damages) is, what we are saying here is that the judgment was wrong,” Mr. Udim, the lawyer to the former senator, said.
“What’s involved here is the reputation of someone – a reputation that has been built over the years.”
NdianAbasi Udofia, the lawyer to the newspaper vendor, said he was ready to go to the Court of Appeal to obtain justice for his client.
Mr. Udofia has been doing the case pro-bono for the vendor.