Delta: Rights Group Slams N500m Suit On Chief of Army Staff , Petitions IGP Over Extrajudicial Killings
SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, (THEWILL) - A human rights group, Forum for Justice and Human Right Defence, has slammed a N500million suit against the Chief of Army Staff over the alleged killing of a motorcyclist by soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force in Ughelli, Delta State.
Joined in the suit alongside the COAS as 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants are the Commander of Joint Task Force, the Attorney General of the Federation and Setraco Nigeria Limited respectively.
The group has also petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar, over several cases of alleged violation of human rights, brutality and alleged killing of innocent citizens by policemen in some parts of Delta State.
The suit was filed by Madam Julie Ewugharodo and seven others who are the plaintiffs while Lt.
Col Victor Ibeh and four others are the defendants.
In the suit No.
UHC/30/2014, deposed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Oghenejabor Ikimi & Co at the High Court, Ughelli, via a writ of summons, the plaintiffs urged the court to declare as unlawful, unconstitutional, wrongful and ultra vires, the alleged shooting and gruesome murder of one Efe Ewugharodo by the defendants.
THEWILL recalls that the 31-year-old was allegedly shot to death by men of the Nigerian Army attached to the 222 Battalion, stationed at Agbarho-Otor assigned to construction giant, Setraco Nigeria Limited on December 5, 2013 in Ughelli.
The killing generated a lot of controversy with the JTF claiming the deceased was shot by the soldiers in self-defence.
The deceased, Ewugharodo, is survived by a wife, Mabel, and three children .
In the writ of summons, the plaintiffs prayed the court to award them the sum of N500,000,000.
00 (Five hundred million naira) only as damages jointly and severally against the defendants.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Oghenejabor Ikimi, in a statement said the public interest case would help to check the several cases of brutality and extra judicial killings by armed uniform men in the country.
In a related development, the Forum for Justice and Human Right Defence has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, accusing the Divisional Police Officer in Ovwian of allegedly "shielding" a traffic warden from prosecution following his alleged violation of the right of one Isaiah Gift who was purportedly brutalised by the traffic warden.
National Coordinator of the group, Oghenejabor Ikimi, who petitioned the IGP on behalf of the victim, alleged that the traffic warden had pounced on the victim, whom he hit with a sharp spanner, thus inflicting a deep cut on his head under the pretext that the victim did not obey traffic signs as a motorcyclist plying Igbogidi-Orhuwhorun road in Ovwian Council Area of Delta State.
Giving a graphic details of the incident, Ikimi said the victim on February 21, while plying his trade, had stopped at a traffic post along Igbogidi-Orhuwhorun road alongside others in obedience to the traffic signs but was asked to continue with their journey by another traffic warden when the other traffic warden suddenly jumped into the road questioning why he (motorcyclist) had to move .
The petitioner said in the ensuing argument, the traffic warden descended on the victim, dealing several blows on him.
While accusing the police in Ovwian of allegedly taking side with the traffic warden who is their colleague, the petitioner alleged that they are "shielding him from prosecution" and have bluntly refused to visit the scene of crime or carried out any investigation on the matter.
The petitioner also accused the police of refusing to give the victim police medical form to enable him receive prompt medical treatment despite the fact that the victim lost a lot of blood from injuries inflicted on him.
The petitioner therefore appealed to the Inspector General of Police to immediately carry out a comprehensive investigation into the incident with a view to prosecuting the "erring traffic warden" in the law court saying; "justice delayed is justice denied".
The group has also petitioned the IGP over the alleged extra-judicial murder of one Ovoke Okara allegedly by the police in Ovwian.
Ikimi in the petition, the deceased, a cobbler was "summarily executed" by the police after he was convicted by "a kangaroo court" reportedly constituted by officers from Ovwian Police Station, who found him guilty and "without a right of appeal summarily executed the deceased as if we were in a military rule and thereby took over the duty of the court and that of the hangman.
" The group said: "It is in the light of the above that we write this petition for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deceased's death with a view to prosecuting any trigger happy policemen involved in the above and use them as scape goats for others in service to learn the rules of engagement.
" The petitioner recalled that the deceased was arrested by members of the vigilante group in Ovwian on February 27, 2014 at a drinking parlour at Owrode town in Udu Local Government Area and handed over to the police who hurriedly arraigned him and allegedly killed him in cold blood.
This was after his prosecution and conviction by a Kangaroo court constituted by officers from the Ovwian Police Station.
"Though we do not in any way encourage criminality, we state that it is more professional in the 21st century for the police to arrest and arraign suspects to avail them of a fair trial in a court of law as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)," the group said.