Torture to death: Court orders police to pay N210m compensation to families of victims

For the offence of torture by its personnel serving with Bauchi Police Command which led to the death of two persons and incapacitation of another, Nigeria Police Force is to pay the sum of N210 million as compensation to the victims as contained in a judgment given by a Federal High Court sitting in Bauchi.

The three people were sometimes last year tortured by the Police personnel attached to the Township Police Division in Bauchi leading to the death of two people and injury to the third person for allegations of theft of a number of chickens from a poultry farm belonging to a retired police officer.

The victims were Abdulwahab Bello, Ibrahim Babangida and Ibrahim Samaila, who were allegedly directed to be beaten by the Divisional Police Officer of the Township Division, SP Baba Ali, on July 21, 2020.

While delivering the three judgments separately against the respondents on Friday, the presiding Judge, Justice Hassan Dikko, ruled that the action of the Police against the three accused amounted to an infringement of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The Judge while reading the judgment stated that: “The killing of Ibrahim Babangida on 23rd day of July 2020 whose death was as a result of being beaten up by the 1st respondent on the 17th day of July 2020, acting under the supervision of the 3rd and 4th respondents for no justifiable reason, constitute extra-judicial killing and is violent deprivation of his fundamental right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and in article 3 and 5 of the African Charter on human rights and dignity, is illegal.

The Judge further read that, “I hereby, order the payment of compensation in the sum of N100 million only against the respondents jointly and severally to Hafsatu Babangida being the biological mother of late Ibrahim Babangida, now deceased as general damages.”

Also delivering judgment in favour of the second deceased family, the Judge ruled that the 1st and 2nd respondents arrested, detained and brutalized the applicant by tying him firmly on a tree and causing grievous injury and caused fracture on his leg.

Hassan Dikko stated that “I consider this action by the respondents as callous, cruel and they must be held liable. It is also to tame the shameful and prevalent executive impunity practised by the Nigerian Police Force capable of causing a second wave of #EndSARS with particular consequences on the security of the citizens and government of Nigeria.”

Justice Hassan Dikko also stated that the deceased was the breadwinner of his family pointing out that: “I hold that the family of Ibrahim Samaila are entitled to compensation for the killing of their breadwinner.”

The Judge further ruled that “the killing of the deceased on 23rd July 2020, whose death was a result of his been beaten up by the 1st respondent in the full glare of the second respondent acting under the supervision of the 3rd and 4th respondents for no justifiable reason constitute extra-judicial killing and it is a violent violation of his fundamental human right.

“I hereby order the compensation in the sum of N100 million to be paid to Hajara Samaila, being his biological mother. Interest to be paid at the rate of 10 per cent per annum three days from the date of the delivery of this judgement until the judgement is fully served,” he further ruled.

Shortly after the judgement was delivered, counsel to the three applicants, Barrister Muktar Usman, while speaking to Journalists said that six months ago, they filed three separate applications for the enforcement of fundamental rights of three different citizens of Nigeria.

According to him, the three persons were arrested by personnel of the Nigeria Police and detained at Bauchi Division Township Station where they were thoroughly beaten up to the extent that two of them died and one survived.

Mukhtar Usman added that “So, we rushed to the court and filed the necessary papers and produced the relevant pieces of evidence and today, the court graciously awarded the sum of NN100 million each in respect to the two deceased persons and N10 million as general damages in respect of the survivor.”

The legal practitioner added that “There was also a declaration by the court that the killings of the two fellows were extra-judicial killings. Justice has been served because it is about the fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens.”

“It was found judicially by this court that the deceased were brutally killed by the Police in contravention of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution which could not be justified,” he stated.

Mukhtar Usman hailed the judgement saying that “the justice served to these victims of human rights abuses will be a motivation to others to seek for justice.”

He further said that: “This judgement will go a long way to give succour to Nigerians for the fact that in the past, people nearly lost hope in the judicial system but with this kind of judgement, we are now becoming more confident in the judicial system than ever before, and if people always pursue their rights, this is the same results they will get.”

On his side, Counsel to the respondents, Barrister Abubakar Kobi, said that they will immediately appeal the court’s judgement even as he expressed optimism of victory at the Appellate court.

He said: “All that I know is that in a proceeding in the court of law, there is either a winner or a loser. The fact that you lost a case at the court of the first instance does not mean that that is the end of the case.”

The legal practitioner added that “Definitely, we must go on appeal very soon to test the law because there are so many issues that will warrant us to take that step and we are hopeful that we will win. This is just the beginning of the case and is not the ending.”

It will be recalled that in July 2020, There was an outcry by human rights organizations in Bauchi of the torture by Police personnel which led to the death of Samaila and Babangida while Bello survived with life-threatening injuries.

The respondents in the suit were: the DPO of Township Police Division, Bauchi, Superintendent of Police Baba Ali who is the 1st defendant; Sergeant Jibril Mohammed, 2nd defendant; Inspector General of Police, 3rd defendant; Commissioner of Police Bauchi State Command, 4th defendant and the Police Service Commission as 5th defendant.

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