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Police brutality backfires with multi-million naira damages

In Abuja, some courts which appear to have dispensed justice and awarded costs running almost into millions of naira in favour of persons brutalized by…

In Abuja, some courts which appear to have dispensed justice and awarded costs running almost into millions of naira in favour of persons brutalized by policemen.

The case of Nnamdi Okonkwo, a Maiduguri businessman, who was moved from his station down to Abuja and dumped in a police cell for months without trial angered a judge, who after examining the facts, awarded N10 million against the police.

Ugochukwu Nwaokporo, a suspect who was detained in a police cell for over seven years, was recently awarded N5 million by an FCT High Court. The police, who were asked to pay the sum, were lambasted for taking the suspect into a cell rather than prison as was directed by the court.

A shocking human rights court hearing is the one instituted by Barrister Nnaemeka Ejiofor, who wants the court to compel the police to produce one Jude Onunze, who has been missing from Kuje Police Station cell over the past one year.

Onunze was arrested because he allegedly told his friend that somebody wanted to harm him and the friend reported to the police, who arrested Onunze without allowing him to be granted bail.

Few days after his arrest, the police told his relations who brought food for him in the morning that he had been released the previous night but the relations became wary and raised an alarm before hiring a human rights lawyer to unearth the truth of the matter.

Presently, Barrister Ejiofor has instituted a case before an FCT High Court to compel the police to produce the missing suspect as well as pay the family N250 million as damages for the stress caused them.

Another shocking story is that of Austin Edache, a 24-year-old taxi driver who suffered permanent paralysis of his hand and fingers after the police tortured him over a report of a missing car.

The court presided over by Justice Kekemeke, last month awarded N1 million to him for human rights abuse but the National Human Rights Commission has given instructions to their legal team to appeal the amount for something greater.

Edache, while narrating his nasty experience with the police, said he was engaged by one Mrs Grace Onyekure of the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication to drive her vehicle, a Nissan Sunny car as a cab.

He said last year, while driving the car, armed robbers accosted him on the way and he managed to escape by the whiskers with his life intact but lost the car.

Edache disclosed that he had picked some passengers from Wuse to the international airport, where they sprayed him with a substance that knocked him off completely.

“I regained consciousness at the Gwagwalada General Hospital after three days of the incident and was told by nurses that a police patrol team removed me from a gutter and brought me to the hospital,” he disclosed.

The cab driver said after he was discharged from the hospital, he was rushed into police detention at Gwagwalada Police Station and transferred to Wuse Police Station two days later for continued detention, where he spent five days before being transferred to the FCT Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

According to him, while he was being transferred to SARS, inmates in his cell at Wuse began to cry because they were aware that people who go in there hardly come out complete human beings because of the series of tortures detainees are subjected to.

He said in order to force him to confess, policemen in the place brutalized him thoroughly with clubs, adding that the situation became worse when one Sergeant Ojo Adeyemi allegedly directed that another round of beating be administered on him which paralyzed his left arm leaving the fingers on his right hand partially paralyzed.

According to him, despite continued protest that he is innocent of the allegation of car theft; he was tightened like a roasted chicken with a rubber and hung on a rope until blood stopped flowing to his hand which caused the paralysis.

Edache said God kept him alive for a purpose as what he went through in the torture chambers was worst than death and would have preferred to be killed quickly as the tight rubber on his arm made the arm swell up to the extent that it burst and began to gush puss.

As if God was on Edache’s side, the robbers who stole the vehicle were nabbed in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State and the information communicated to FCT, SARS.

Our reporter learnt that during interrogation, the arrested robbers absolved Edache and told their interrogators that until that day they never met him before and he knows nothing about the car theft.

This confession made his tormentors lessen his punishment and afraid that her husband might be killed, Edache’s wife, Chinonye rushed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), who sent representatives to assist him leading to his release after 27 days of tortures.

Edache lamented that he was not charged to court or allowed to see any member of his family, including his wife, until the NHRC secured his bail and took him to the Maitama General Hospital, where he was admitted.

The commission’s Assistant Legal Officer, Mr Dahiru Soja Bobbo told the press that an official in SARS told him that Edache should count himself lucky because he came out alive.

NHRC’ Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Mr Lambert Oparah, stated that the Commission has instructed their legal team to prepare for an appeal against the N1 million cost awarded to Edache by the court, adding that the money is a meager sum when compared to the amount of damage done to that young man and his family.

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