By Titilope Joseph
Lagos – A Pastor, Mr Garuba Gabriel has called out the Registered Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church for failure to pay the sum of N500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Naira) damages as compensation awarded to him against the church by the court.
Hon. Justice A. M. Liman of the Federal High Court (the 4th trial Judge in this matter) on July 21, 2022 handed down Judgement in the long-drawn litigation which originally commenced in 2013 in the suit with No: FHC/L/CS/2005/2018 at the instance of the 1st defendant who was then an Applicant in a fundamental right enforcement procedure action by which he sought the enforcement of his fundamental right to life.
According to the applicant in a letter signed by his counsel, Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, Pastor Garuba Obabueki was the resident Pastor at the Calabar branch of the Gospel Apostolic Church and in the year 2000 while he attended the National Pastors’ Conference of the Church in Lagos.
He was perceived to be disrespectful and critical of the General Overseer of the Church who felt threatened by the courage of his conviction and left instructions with the Chief Security to “take care” of him. He said this happened during a recess when conferees including Pastor Obabueki were at liberty to visit some of the significant recreational and attraction centres within the premises.
“During the said recess, our client was taken around the premises by the Chief Security Officer and shown many places including but curiously the Church armoury. It was at this place that he was pointedly shot by the Chief Security Officer leading to the loss of his two eyes among other bodily harm. Needless to say that he was discharged after a long period of hospitalization and operations and procedures. Appeals for compensation and restitution to enable him to pick up his shattered life failed culminating in the original legal action in 2013 which ended in our client’s favour whereupon he was awarded N500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Naira) damages. The Church refused to pay to argue that he actually shot himself while fiddling with one of the guns. Without reviewing the facts of the matter, and assuming without conceding that he shot himself, it’s remarkably untenable and preposterous to push the argument that a man could pick up a gun and pointedly turn it against himself and shoot at himself. It is also worrisome to conceive of a church that maintains an armoury with loaded guns.
“By the time we took over the matter in 2016, four different law firms and three Judges including Justices M. H. Kurya, I. N. Buba and Hon. Justice Hadiza Shagari had handled the matter for a Church that refused to compensate their victim in the Judgement sum or any post-Judgement negotiated amount.
Our intervention commenced with a garnishee proceeding at which point they engaged the law firm of Kemi Pinhero & Co. SAN and against whom we engaged up to the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/L/43/2018 all determined in our client’s favour until 2018.
“They approached yet another Senior Advocate of Nigeria Lanre Ogunlesi, SAN who instituted a fresh matter at the Federal High Court in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/2005/2018 which, in our humble view, sought to re-litigated precisely what we had dealt with at the instant Court and resolved at the Court of Appeal. We sternly opposed the Suit in Limine and articulated our legal argument in our final written address after trial. The result is the Judgement of 21st July, 2022 upholding our preliminary point of law on res-judicata, subject matter/issue estoppel,” Pastor Gabriel’s counsel averred.