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Court Awards N1m Damages Against Police Over Human Rights Abuse

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Justice Chuka Obiozo of the Federal High Court in Lagos has awarded the sum of N1 million damages against the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for breaching the rights of six men by labelling them members of dreaded Boko Haram Sect.

Justice Obiozor awarded the damage sum against the police while delivering judgment in fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the men: Lutumbe Isiaku, Jolly Richard, Aaron Avabasa, Loniba Maijela and David Williams against the police.

The six men, who are members of United Methodist Church in Nigeria, 12, Raliatu Street, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos, had instituted the suit against the presiding Pastor of the church, Pastor Andrew Barkuma, Bishop John Yohanna Wesley, Registered Trustees of United Methodist Church In Nigeria (UMCN), as first to third defendants.

The applicants had urged the court for a declaration that the invasion of the church premises on September 4, 2015, by the police and subsequent rebelling, arrest, torture, humiliation, parading and their detention as members of the dreaded Boko Haram Sect, is arbitrary, unlawful, gross abuse of their fundamental rights of liberty and dignity of human persons.

While the first to third defendants filed preliminary objection and counter affidavit in opposition to the applicants’ suit, asking the court to dismiss their application with substantial cost.

The fourth to seventh respondents (the police) did not file any process before the court.

Delivering judgement in suit on Friday, Justice Obiozor, while dismissing the applicants’ suit against the first to third respondents, hold that for the fourth to seventh respondents not to have file any counter to the applicants’ suit an admittance that they commit the act against the applicants.

The judge therefore awarded N1 million damages against the police in favour of the applicants jointly and severally.

“I hold that the four to seven respondents denied the applicants of their right to human dignity, for releasing tear gas on them, chaining their hands together and causing the applicants to squirt under the rain at the full glare of the public at the police station, this is not acceptable and it is a breach of section 34 of 1999 Constitution. For this, the applicants are entitled to compensation from the police.

“Consequently, I award damages in favour of all applicants against the police jointly and severely in the sum of N1 million”, Justice Obiozor ordered

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