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Court awards N4m compensation to fuel subsidy protest victim

By The Citizen
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An Ikeja High Court, Lagos Friday ordered the payment of   the sum of N4 million as compensation to families of  four protesters, who were shot by former Divisional Police Officer of Pen Cinema Police Station, Agege, Lagos, Mr. Segun Fabunmi, during last year's protest against subsidy removal.  Trial judge,Justice Bola Okikiolu-Ighile in her ruling  held the police and Fabunmi liable for 'recklessly shooting and inflicting bodily injury' on the applicants. She also ordered that the police to apologise to the applicants on a national daily. Fabunmi, allegedly shot at the protesters at about 9.30am on January 9, 2012  in Yaya-Abatan Junction, Agege, Lagos, during the protest. The four applicants were said to have been injured while one other protester, Adedamola Daramola, allegedly died instantly.

The applicants are Egbuzor Samuel (24), Alimi Abubakar (41), Joy Monday (21) and Chibuzo Udo (28) The suit dated March 13, 2012, was instituted on behalf of the four applicants by the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender. Also on Friday, Fabunmi, who is facing, separate criminal trial arising from the incident, asked Justice Olabisi Akinlade, of the same Lagos High Court, for bail. Justice Akinlade, after hearing the bail application, fixed July 4 for ruling. But Justice Okikiolu-Ighile  held in her judgment that the shooting violated the applicants' constitutional rights to freedom of movement and human dignity. The court exonerated the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, who was joined as a respondent.

The judge said both the first and second defendants (the Police and Fabunmi) 'wilfully and deliberately refused to participate in the proceedings' thereby rendering all the allegations of the applicants against them unchallenged. Okikiolu-Ighile said, 'In the absence of any counter-affidavit or any opposition, the court is bound to evaluate the facts placed before it and determine the case based on the available facts.' She added that the medical reports obtained by the applicants linked the injuries on them to gunshot.

She said, 'I hereby declare that the first and second respondents recklessly and maliciously shot at the applicants inflicting bodily injury in violation of their right to life, right to freedom of movement and right to human dignity. 'It is hereby ordered that the first and second respondents offer apology to the applicants on a  national newspaper. 'It is ordered that first and second respondents, jointly and severally, should pay the sum of N1m to each of the first, second, third and fourth defendant for the psychological trauma, bodily injury caused them by the acts of the first  and second respondents.'