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March 7, 2021

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Judicial panel awards two petitioners N10 million compensation

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The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Friday awarded N10 million as compensation to two victims of police brutality.

The petitioners, Adebayo Abayomi and Hannah Olugbodi, were compensated for the loss and disability they suffered as a result of misuse of firearms by officers of the Nigerian Police Force.

Mr Abayomi had approached the panel over the death of his mother, Kudirat Abayomi, who was the breadwinner of the family.

He told the panel that his mother’s corpse was left on the ground at the mortuary after she was hit by a stray bullet from police officers. The incident happened on April 4, 2017, at the Onipanu area.

He said his mother, who was selling bean cake in the area, was hit by a bullet and taken in a police vehicle to Olosan police station.

Mr Abayomi said the DPO of the station said he had paid for the deceased to be embalmed but when he got to the mortuary the next day, he met his mother’s body on the bare floor, swollen.

Although Fatai Owoseni, the then commissioner of police, commiserated with the family and instituted an investigation into the matter, Mr Abayomi said the outcome of the investigation was not disclosed.

Mrs Olugbodi, on the other hand, narrated how her left leg was shattered by a stray bullet from officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The incident happened on June 6, 2018, while the SARS officers were trying to arrest a suspected internet fraudster at Ijesha, Lagos.

She narrated that the officers began shooting sporadically at Ogun City Hotel where the suspect was and which was close to a market.

The stray bullet hit her where she was at the market, shattering her left leg.

The mother of two said she could not get adequate treatment and surgery for her leg because her husband and the family had no money.

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Hannah Olugbodi, a victim of police stray bullet awarded N10 million by the panel.
Hannah Olugbodi, a victim of police stray bullet awarded N10 million by the panel.

Panel’s decision

Disclosing the decision of the panel on Friday, Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge heading the panel, awarded both victims N10 million each.

Addressing Mr Abayomi, Mrs Okuwobi said his younger brother will be awarded a scholarship, in addition to the N10 million awarded as compensation.

“The panel finds that the late Mrs Kudirat Adebayo was extrajudicially killed by officers of the Nigerian Police which is a clear infringement of her right to life as guaranteed by section 33, Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

“There was no evidence of any attempt to offer first aid to the deceased after she was shot. There was poor engagement with the family of the deceased by the Nigerian Police Force.

“The panel finds evidence of systemic error and ineptitude on the part of officers of the Nigerian Police,” Mrs Okuwobi said.

She said the panel recommends prosecution of the erring officers of the Nigerian Police responsible for the death of the petitioner’s deceased mother.

“N10 million is hereby awarded as compensation to the family of the deceased person, educational scholarship for the deceased’s ward, Ayomikun Olusoji whose fees were paid by the deceased.”

The panel also ruled that the Nigerian Police should write a letter of apology to the family of the deceased by for unlawful killing of the deceased by officers of the Nigerian Police.

Adebayo Abayomi, whose mother was killed by a police bullet receiving N10 million from the panel.
Adebayo Abayomi, whose mother was killed by a police bullet receiving N10 million from the panel.

Disclosing the decision of the panel on Mrs Olugbodi’s case, Mrs Okuwobi said with the evidence given by the petitioner and the respondent, the panel finds that the petitioner was shot by officers of the Nigerian Police Force without any justification in law.

“The gunshot led to grievous bodily harm on the petitioner. The family of the petitioner has been driven to penury in a bid to pursue the recommended treatment to the petitioner.”

Mrs Okuwobi added that there is no evidence that Mrs Olugbodi received any support from the Nigerian Police, despite suffering distress and anxiety from the incident.

“Taken into account the extent of injury suffered, the period the petitioner spent in the hospital for treatment, we hereby make an award of N10 million to the petitioner,” she said.

The panel also recommended that the Nigerian Police Force should investigate cases of sporadic shootings by its officers and subject police officers to a minimum of four years in training.

Both petitioners were awarded N10million each as compensation by the panel.

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