By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
The Lagos State government has again doled out compensations to four more petitioners who successfully proved their allegations of being brutalized by the police.
Mrs. Aminat Openiyi, Felicia Okpara, Tella Adesanya, Blessing Omorogie, were petitioners who got compensated.
Mrs. Openiyi, whose husband, a telecommunication worker was murdered by SARS officers was compensated with N10 million.
Felicia Okpara, however, was arrested and brutalized by officers of the Nigerian police during the nationwide EndSars protest. She was awarded N750,000 in compensation.
Tella Adesanya, a Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services under the Min. of Agriculture, was awarded N500,000 after he was arrested illegally for three days and traumatized by police officers.
Blessing Omorogie, the last petitioner who was compensated got N5 million after she was shot by one officer Emmanuel which has caused her serious bodily harm.
Justice Doris Okuwobi, in her ruling, ordered that the Nigerian Police Force apologizes to these victims for abusing their human rights before presenting cheques of varying amounts to them as compensation.
Similarly, two petitioners, the Family of late Eni Idum and Oladoyin Ademola were not compensated by the panel as the panel held that the deceased was not murdered by the police based on evidence tendered.
Justice Doris while delivering her judgment in the case of Felicia Okpara said the panel found that the appropriate authorities were unable to bring perpetrators of the torture and abuses against the petitioner to book.
“The police are aware of the fundamental rights of people guaranteed in the Constitution. The culture of impunity and violence as observed in some officers of the Police Force has given them wrong mentality that brutality and excessive force are fundamental to achieving success in policing in Nigeria.”
She recommended an apology letter to the petitioner by the Nigerian Police force, training of officers on human rights laws and enforcement and necessary disciplinary action against erring officers.
“Compensation in sum of N750,000 is hereby awarded to the petitioner,” the judge ruled.
In the second petition, she awarded N10 million as compensation to the family of Olusegun Openiyi who was killed by police officers in 2017.
Justice Doris said based on the evidence given by the petitioner, the panel found that the petitioner’s fact was not challenged and controverted by the respondent and is credible and strong enough for compensation.
“Medical evidence confirmed death was caused by gunshot from the accused police officer, investigation was not properly conducted,” she said.
The panel recommended a scholarship for one biological child of the victim and the prosecution of the named officer, Jide Akintola.
Similarly, Blessing Omorogie, another petitioner who suffered deformity on her face as a result of gunshot injuries was awarded N5 million.
“The petitioner led uncontested evidence which was credible enough to be acted upon by the panel. The assailant is still in prison and there is no doubt to her case,” Mrs. Okuwobi said.
The judge added that the petitioner’s right to life under Section 33 of the Constitution was threatened but she had no power or means to pursue the enforcement of her fundamental rights.
“The grievous harm done to the petitioner is unlawful, she was inflicted with a grave injury and requires plastic surgery. N5 million is awarded to the petitioner,” Mrs. Okuwobi ruled.
Mr. Tella Adesanya received compensation of N500,000 for his unlawful detention in the police custody without being charged to court and the trauma he suffered.
Mr. Adesanya had narrated to the panel that he was arrested at a checkpoint in Mushin local government for allegedly hitting someone with his car.
“The petition is uncontested on facts before the panel that the petitioner was arrested, detained for 3 days, and not taken to any court,” the judge said.
She added that the panel found out that a bribe was given to the police officer before he was released and the petitioner’s car is still in the custody of the police to date.
Justice Doris awarded N500,000 to the petitioner for his unlawful detention and trauma suffered, adding that his car should be released immediately.