Ndukwe Ekekwe, a 34-year-old man who told the panel he was pushed off a two-storey building by police officers, on Tuesday, openly displayed his dissatisfaction at the ‘meagre’ sum awarded to him as compensation for the brutality he suffered in the hands of the police.
Doris Okuwobi, the chairperson of the panel, awarded N7.5 million to Mr Ekekwe, a gesture which led to the petitioner’s mother bursting out in tears and the petitioner himself revolting.
“Wetin be N7.5 million? I spent over N30 million, I sold my land. Wetin I wan take N7.5 million do?” he shouted at the panel.
His aged mother, who has been attending the proceedings, also started crying, following the panel’s judgement.
Mr Ekekwe, who has been in a wheelchair since 2018, narrated that he encountered the officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on February 16, 2018, an incident that left him with a damaged spinal cord.
The petitioner told the panel he was earlier detained and brutalised by police officers before the February 16 incident.
He said he was alleged of selling stolen goods at his shop at Alaba international market by officers led Haruna Hamisu, an inspector of police.
The alleged officer, Mr Hamisu, also appeared before the panel and said the petitioner was not pushed from a two-storey building but jumped.
Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge heading the Lagos judicial panel, on Tuesday, awarded N7.5 million to the petitioner.
Giving the panel’s judgment, Mrs Okuwobi said the petitioner led “credible and strong evidence on being brutalised by the police while in their custody.
“The police stabbed the petitioner with a knife, hit his head with a gun, and broke his teeth. These pieces of evidence were not debunked by the respondents,” Mrs Okuwobi said.
She added the panel found out there was a violation of the petitioner’s fundamental right and awarded a sum of N7.5 million “as compensation for the torture and inhumane treatment meted to him by the respondent while in their custody.”
The panel also recommended that an investigation be carried out to fish out the officers who abused and brutalised the petitioner and they should be sanctioned.
The pronouncement of the retired judge was followed by an expression of dissatisfaction by the petitioner and his family members.
“Wetin I wan use that money do? I sell my land, my property, all my goods, wetin be that money? Wetin I wan use am do, for treatment abi for what?” he responded.
Olukoya Ogungbeje, counsel to the petitioner, whisked the petitioner out of the panel room, where he calmed him and his mother.
Shortly after, the petitioner returned to the panel in a calmer mood to receive his cheque.
“My noble lord, I sincerely appreciate the panel for the job well done,” Mr Ogungbeje told the panel chair.
While awarding the cheque, Mrs Okuwobi told the petitioner to accept it in good faith.
“To you, it may be small, but you must bear one thing in mind that justice has been done to your case. That is what is utmost to the exercise being carried out. congratulations,” she said.
The panel also awarded two other petitioners N3 million each for the brutality they suffered.
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