africa

Lagos #EndSARS Panel awards N16.25m compensation to four victims, rejects two


The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses has awarded more compensations of N16.25m to another four victims of police brutality in the state.

But, the Chairperson of the Panel, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi who delivered the seperate decisions on Saturday did not award compensation in two other petitions.

With these latest awards, the Panel has handed out a total of N43.75 million as compensations so far.

The Panel found that petitoner, Felicia Okpara who was arrested and brutalised by police officers for filming the violence during the #EndSARS protests in Surulere last October, that appropriate authorities were unable to bring perpetrators of the torture and abuses against the Petitioner to book.

According to Justice Okuwobi, “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.”

The judge recommends a letter of apology from the Nigeria Police Force to the petitioner, training of officers on human right laws and enforcement as well as necessary disciplinary action against erring officers.

She then awarded the sum of N750,000 to the petitioner,” the judge ruled.

In the second petition, the judge awarded a sum of N10 million as compensation to the family of Olusegun Openiyi who was killed by police officers in 2017.

Justice Okuwobi said, the panel finds that the petitioner’s facts were not challenged and controverted by the respondent and is credible and strong enough for compensation.

“Medical evidence confirmed the death was caused by gunshot, the accused police officer, Jide Akintola’s  investigation was not properly conducted,” she said.

The panel recommended scholarship for one biological child of the victim and the prosecution of the named officer, Jide Akintola.

Meanwhile, the petition of an alleged killing of a physically challenged man, Francis Idum, by police officers at Ajisegiri Street, Ilupeju, received no compensation.

The panel found out that the deceased was killed by an “unidentified person” taking into evidence the testimony of the respondent.

The retired judge said the petitioner did not establish his case by showing that it was a weapon handled by the police that killed the deceased.

“After the deceased has been shot, his corpse was taken away by police officers led by the Area Commander, Area F Command, while the shell of a bullet with serial number BS99m, lugar pistle was recovered beside the body of the deceased,” she said.

There was no direct evidence given as to the exact person who shot the deceased, none of the petitioner’s witnesses that testified in respect of the case were eye witnesses of incident as they were not at the scene when he was shot.

The petitioner could not establish that the bullet whose shell was found near the deceased was from the weapon used by the police. The evidence of the police witnesses and the movement of arms register remain uncontroverted as the police only signed out AK 47 as operational weapons for that day.”
Mrs Okuwobi ruled that the petitioner could not establish his case and the panel is unable to award any compensation.

Also, in the case of Oladoyin Ademola, a petitioner who testified that the multiple slaps he received from police officers at Dopemu checkpoint resulted in cataract, the panel awarded no compensation, ruling instead that the police officers who were at the Dopemu checkpoint and the DPO of Dopemu Police station ought to be investigated.

But the panel rules further that, “The petitioner did not connect the cataract he suffered to the act of the police. The panel cannot hold the police responsible for the cataract he suffered.”

The panel also awarded N5 million compensation to Blessing Omorogie, another petitioner who seeks funds for a plastic surgery to correct a deformity on her face sustained from gunshot injuries.

“The petitioner led uncontested evidence which was credible enough to be acted upon panel. The assailant is still in prison and there is no doubt to her case,” Justice 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 fundamental right.

The last petitioner to be awarded was Tella Adesanya who received a compensation of N500, 000 for his unlawful detention in the police custody without being charged to court and the trauma he suffered due to accusations that he hit 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 the petitioner’s car is still in custody of the police till date, and ordered that It should be released immediately.





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