A widow, Adiza Orjieh, whose husband, Friday Orjieh, was arbitrarily killed by an “Operation Messa” soldier, has gone to court to compel the Nigerian Army and the Lagos State Government to produce and prosecute the assailant, army private, Aminu Audu. Mr. Audu was serving with “Operation Messa” when he reportedly shot a bullet into Mr. Orjieh’s head in November, 2009. Both the Nigerian Army and the Lagos State Government created “Operation MESSA” to fight crime in the state.
Mr. Orjieh’s relatives allege that military authorities have since protected Private Audu from trial.
The deceased was a bureau de change operator in Ikeja, a suburb of the Lagos state capital of Lagos. SaharaReporters learnt that Mr. Orjieh was reportedly killed by the army private after one Elizabeth Olubunmi reported to the soldier that an operator in the currency changer's office had shortchanged her in a transaction.
Ms. Olubunmi reportedly marched into the victim's office on the fateful day with an armed soldier to help her take vengeance after she alleged that an operative had cheated her in a transaction earlier in the day.
Ms. Orjieh told the court that eyewitnesses had described to her how her husband was murdered in cold blood. In her account, Mr. Friday Orjieh received Ms. Elizabeth Olubunmi when she arrived in his office on November 7, 2009 in the company of armed soldiers, including the alleged killer, Private Aminu Audu and Lance Corporal Yahaya Mohammed.
Eyewitnesses reported that Ms. Olubunmi was conducted around the office, but admitted that none of the operators in the office was her alleged cheater. Even so, Private Audu Aminu reportedly ordered Mr. Orjieh to pay Ms. Olubunmi the amount that was allegedly defrauded of her, and to reclaim the sum from the alleged cheater later. Mr. Orjieh refused,explaining that he did not know who the alleged cheater-operator was, and could not determine how true the purported transaction was or the amount involved. Angered by Mr. Orjieh’s refusal, Private Audu pointed his gun at the jaw of the victim who was attending to other customers.
Eyewitnesses stated that the furious soldier held the victim in a ferocious grip and shook him so vehemently that his cell phone fell to the ground. As the soldier’s aggression intensified, Mr. Orjieh reportedly asked to be left alone. Instead, the “Op-Messa” soldier fired the gun, shattering the victim’s skull. Mr. Orjieh reportedly died instantly from the pointblank gunshot.
The deceased widow and other relatives accused the Nigerian Army and “Operation Messa” of shielding the culprit since the killing and frustrating his trial.
Ms. Orjieh’s lawyer, Robert Igbinedion, has accused the assailant’s military unit of seeking to sweep the illegal killing under the carpet.
The Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, Attorney-General of the Federation, Lagos State Government and Attorney-General of Lagos State are also joined in the lawsuit.
Other defendants are Private Audu and Ms. Elizabeth Olubunmi who claimed she had been cheated by an operator.
The suit prays that the court rule that the killing of Mr. Friday Orjieh was a gross violation of the deceased’s fundamental rights to life. In addition, the plaintiff seeks an award of N500million as compensation for breach of the deceased’s right to life.
The presiding judge fixed hearing for February 9, 2013. A spokesman for the deceased’s family said they hope the Nigerian Army will finally produce the trigger-happy assailant for trial.