By Agnes Nworie
A High court sitting in Abakaliki has awarded N500,000 damages against Peace Mass Transit in favour of a passenger, one Miss Iyiakaimo Henrietta.
The court presided over by Justice Elvis Ngene recently awarded the damages having found respondents in the suit numbered HAB /48MC/ 2019 Peace Mass Transit and its driver, one Mr. Agbo Chukwukadibia guilty of assaulting a female passenger who boarded their bus on the 26th day of May 2019.
We gathered that the passenger, one Miss Iyiakaimo Henrietta boarded Peace bus numbered PMT 934 at their Abakaliki park premises number 25A ogoja road Abakaliki with intention of traveling to Afikpo, and was given ticket bearing front seat number 2, but the driver allegedly dragged her down (forcefully) from the bus with a claim that he doesn’t carry women in front of his bus, whereas the seat was allotted to the applicant by the management through her ticket.
Consequently, the passenger filed a suit and sought the following:” A declaration that forceful eviction and the subsequent denial of the applicant’s right to sit at no 2 seat of the 1st respondent’s bus in park premises at no 25A Afikpo road Abakaliki on the 26th day of May 2019 is unconstitutional, unlawful, arbitrary and oppressive as it consists a gross violation of the applicant’s fundamental human rights to freedom from discrimination guaranteed under section 42 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“A declaration that the acts of assault and battery of the applicant by the 2nd respondent is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and constitute assault and battery and is also a gross violation of the applicant’s fundamental human rights to the dignity of human person.”
“An order of the court directing the respondents to tender an unreserved apology to the applicant by publishing same in Guardian newspaper within two weeks from the judgement. An order of the court to award compensatory damages to the applicant against the respondents jointly and severally in the sum of twenty million naira.(N20,000,000).
“An order of the court to award exemplary damages (punitive damage) to the applicant against the respondents jointly or severally in the sum of thirty million naira (N30 ,000,000). And for such further order and orders as the court may deem fit”, the passenger sought.
On their parts, the respondents held they never asked the applicant or any other passenger at all to change his/ her seating position with another male passenger as they treat all passengers as valued customers irrespective of sex, creed ,religion etc.
Sequel to the above, the trial judge Justice Elvis Ngene held the view that the fundamental right of the applicant not to be discriminated against, as well as her dignity of human person were violated by the respondents.
To that effect, he awarded in favour of the applicant and against the respondents jointly compensatory and exemplary damages of five hundred thousand naira (N500,000)