The Federal High Court in Bauchi on Friday awarded N210 million against the Nigeria Police as compensation for their brutality leading to the death of two persons and life-threatening injury of another man.
Punch newspaper reports that Abdulwahab Bello, Ibrahim Babangida and Ibrahim Samaila, were allegedly tortured by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Township Division in Bauchi, Baba Ali, a superintendent of police, on July 21, 2020, over alleged theft of chickens belonging to a retired police officer.
The torture was said to have led to the death of Messrs Samaila and Babangida while Mr Bello survived with life-threatening injuries.
Mr Bello and the families of the deceased persons, on October 22, 2020, filed three separate fundamental rights enforcement suits, demanding N150 million each in damages, against the police.
Those sued as the defendants by the plaintiffs are, the DPO, Mr Ali (1st defendant); Jibril Mohammed, a sergeant, (2nd defendant), the Inspector-General of Police (3rd defendant); Commissioner of Police Bauchi State (4th defendant), and the Police Service Commission ( 5th defendant).
‘Callous, cruel, uncivilised’
Delivering judgment in the three suits on Friday, the judge, Hassan Dikko, described the action of police against the victims as “callous, cruel and uncivilised”.
He noted how the 1st and 2nd respondents arrested, detained and brutalised one of the deceased persons “by tying him firmly to a tree and using a pestle to cause grievous injury and caused fracture on his leg”.
He said such cruelty could lead to another wave of #EndSARS protests.
“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.
“Extra-judicial killings must be discouraged by all local authorities in every democratic society. The applicant is entitled to compensation for the senseless and brutal intention of torture he endured in the hands of the respondents.”
‘Infringement of constitutional rights’
He held that the treatment meted out to the victims amounted to an infringement of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
He held in one of the cases, “The killing of Ibrahim Babangida on 23rd day July, 2020 whose death was as a result of his (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.
“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.”
He awarded N100 million each to the mothers of the two deceased and N10 million to the survivor as compensation and general damages, with 10 per cent interest rate per annum until the total amounts are fully paid.