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Court orders police to pay Rivers trader N3bn

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A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ruled in favour of Victor Ogbonna, one of the spare parts traders tortured by members of the disbanded Eagle Crack unit of the Nigeria Police Force in 2019.

The court, during the judgment on Friday, awarded the victim N3 billion as damages against the Nigerian Police.

Ogbonna had filed a fundamental human rights suit against the Inspector General of Police and eight others over alleged torture by operatives of the disbanded Eagle Crack Unit of the Rivers State Police Command, an incident that allegedly led to the death of one of them, Chima Ikwunado.

Delivering judgment, the trial judge, Justice Stephen Daylop-Pam, held that the plaintiff proved a case of torture and inhuman treatment against the police and thereby awarded N3bn as damages in favour of  Ogbonna.

Our correspondent reports that the Nigerian Police had yet to pay the N5 million earlier awarded as damages in favour of Ifeanyi Osuji by Justice James Omotoso, N5 million in favour of Ifeanyi Onyekwere by Justice Phoebe Ayua, and N75 million in favour of the family of the late Chima Ikwunado by Justice Mark of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.

Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel for the plaintiff and Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt Branch, Emmanuel Okpala  expressed happiness with the judgment.

Okpala said it would serve as deterrent to police officers and other law enforcement agents who are in habit of passing instant judgment against civilians through their actions

Okpala stated, “I have been able to get judgment in respect of Mr Ifeanyi Osuji against the Inspector General of Police.

“We also got judgement in the case involving Ifeanyi Omyekwere against the Inspector General of Police today.

“We got judgment in the case of Victor Ogbonna against the Inspector General of Police. These are the three boys out of the five that were arrested and tortured by the then Eagle-Crack Squad Police Unit at the Mile 1 Police Station in Port Harcourt.

“One of them died in police detention as a result of complications arising from the torture. The  four other boys survived the torture, though they could have died.

“They sustained various degrees of internal and external injuries.  So we filed fundamental human rights proceedings at the Federal High Court.

“And like I said, this is the fourth judgment we have gotten in respect of the fundamental human rights proceedings we initiated.

“Today the Federal High Court 4 president over by Honourable Justice Stephen Daylop-Pam delivered judgement and awarded N3bn against the Nigerian Police for turturing innocent citizen. ”

The PUNCH reports that policemen who were members of the Eagle Crack had subjected the five mechanics to torture, a development that led to the death of Chima Ikwunado

Ikwunado, a mechanic in Ikokwu, died in the cell at the Mile One Police Station after he was tortured by the police, who arrested him alongside four of his friends, claiming they were cultists.

The PUNCH also reports that his friends were discharged, with a court ruling that they were arrested based on mere suspicion.

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