Court awards N4m against Nigeria police for shooting fuel subsidy protesters

Ademola Aderinde being molested before he was later killed

An Ikeja High Court on Friday awarded N1 million compensation to each of the four protesters who were shot by a police officer during the January 2012 protest against the removal of fuel subsidy.

The court awarded the compensation in its judgment on a fundamental human rights enforcement suit, dated March 13, 2012, instituted on behalf of the four applicants by the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender (OPD).

The applicants: Egbuzor Samuel (24), Alimi Abubakar (41), Joy Monday (21) and Chibuzo Udo (28), had received gunshot wounds on Jan. 9, 2012 at Yaya-Abatan Junction, Agege, Lagos, while protesting against the subsidy removal.

While the four applicants sustained various injuries in the incident, one other protester, Adedamola Daramola, allegedly died instantly.

In her judgment, Justice Bola Okikiolu-Ighile awarded the total sum of N4 million damages against the police and the second defendant, Segun Fabunmi for “recklessly shooting and inflicting bodily injury” on the protesters.

Fabunmi is the dismissed Divisional Police Officer of Pen Cinema Police Station, Agege, who had been alleged to have shot at them.

The judge held that the shooting violated the protesters’ constitutional rights to freedom of movement and human dignity.

According to her, both the first and second defendants (the Police and Fabunmi), deliberately refused to participate in the court proceedings.

She said their refusal had left all the allegations made against them by the applicants, unchallenged.

The judge said: “In the absence of any counter-affidavit or any opposition, the court is bound to evaluate the facts placed before it and determine the case based on the facts before it.

“The applicants averred that the second respondent, whom they identified as a policeman, took a gun from another policeman and shot at them.

“This fact was not challenged by the first and second defendant and it is thereby deemed accepted.”

She said the medical reports obtained by the applicants from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital satisfactorily linked the injuries they sustained to gunshots.

“I hereby declare that the first and second respondents recklessly and maliciously shot at the applicants, inflicting bodily injury, in violation of their right to life, right to freedom of movement and right to human dignity,” Okikiolu-Ighile said.

She also ordered the police to apologise to the applicants in The PUNCH newspaper and any other national daily.

Meanwhile, Fabunmi on Friday filed a bail application before Justice Olabisi Akinlade , also of an Ikeja High Court, where he is facing criminal charges over the same incident.

NAN reports that Fabunmi was remanded in Kirikiri Maximum Prison after his arraignment on May 15, over his alleged murder of one of the protesters, Daramola.

He is facing a seven-count charge bordering on murder, attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm.

The court fixed July 4 for ruling on the application which was filed by his counsel, Mr George Oguntade (SAN).

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