Abuja-------------- The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, awarded N15 million against the Nigerian police over the alleged killings of three members of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN.
The court presided over by ustice Taiwo Taiwo, in his judgment, also ordered the National Hospital, Abuja, to release the three corpses in its morgue to their families forthwith.
Taiwo while granting Reliefs A and C of the applicants, said each of them must be paid N5 million by the police as compensation for the killings, bringing the total to N15 million.
The Inspector General of Police, IGP, was joined as the first respondent while the Medical Director of National Hospital, Abuja, was the second respondent in the three separate charges.
The court processes showed that Mallam Suleiman Shehu, Mahdi Musa and Bilyaminu Abubakar Faska were alleged to have been killed by agents of the police on July 22, 2019 while on a peaceful protest to demand for the freedom of their Leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja.
The bodies of the deceased were alleged to have been deposited at the National Hospital, Abuja.
The applicants, who were said to be brothers of the deceased in the suit, included Ibrahim Abdullahi, Ahmad Musa and Yusuf Faska respectively.
The applicants prayed the court to declare that “the killings of the deceased on July 22, 2019 by the police was illegal, unlawful, null and void and amounts to gross violation of their fundamental rights to life as enshrined in Section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“An order of this honourable court directing the 1st and 2nd respondents to release the corps of the deceased to the applicants for burial in accordance with Islamic rites.”
They also sought for the order of the court directing the Nigerian police to pay each of the applicants the sum of one hundred million naira for unlawful detention and killings of their brothers.
“An order of this honourable court directing the respondent to tender a formal apology to the applicants by publishing same in two national daily newspapers.
“Such further order(s) as this honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case,” the motion read in part.
At the last sitting on June 24, though the Nigerian police was not represented in court, counsel to the National Hospital, Chris Momoh, informed that he did not file counter-affidavit in respect of the suit because the hospital was only a custodian to the bodies brought by the 1st respondent.
However counsel to the police, Lough Simon, appeared on Monday when the case was called for judgment.
Justice Taiwo did not allow him to make any submission.
“The judgment is ready. You are not going to arrest my judgment.
“You did not file any process; there is nothing before me; so you don’t have any fact to put right,” he responded.
in his separste judgments, Taiwo noted that despite the service of court processes and hearing notices on the police, the failed to file any counter application adding that matters of fundamental rights enforcement should be given priority over any other cases, citing previous Supreme Court cases.
The judge further noted that the application by the plaintiffs was filed on May 6, pointing out that where respondent did not file any counter application, “the court shall assume that the respondent has accepted the facts in the application.”
“I adjourned until June 24 and the 1st defendant did not show up again, “once the opportunity is offered, it is the responsibility of parties to utilise same and once this is over, court has nothing to do than to deliver justice.
“Where an averment is uncontroverted, the court shall assume it to be true. So averment that is not controverted is deemed to be right.
“There is no denial of this fact that the applicant was killed while on peaceful protest by the 1st defendant and there is nothing before the court to show any counter by the defendant,” he said.