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Court orders IGP to pay woman N100m over death of husband in custody

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the Inspector-General Police to pay N100 million to Mrs Mary Kajo over the alleged arrest, unlawful detention, torture and death of her husband, Mark Kajo.


Delivering judgement, Justice Inyang Ekwo also ordered the police authorities to pay the sum of N500,000 as the cost of filing the suit.


Justice Ekwo directed a five per cent post-judgment interest on the fine until the judgement debt is fully settled.


The judge, who observed that the police authorities did not challenge the case of the applicant, said: “The position of the law remains that affidavit evidence which is not challenged or controverted howsoever, is deemed admitted and can be relied upon by a court.”


He, therefore, declared that the killing of the late Mark in custody by agents of the police was wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional.


He said it violated Mark’s constitutional rights under Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, CAP.A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.


He said the deceased had a fundamental right to life guaranteed and enforceable under the laws.


“I find that the applicant has established that the fundamental rights of her husband, Mr Mark Kajo, have been breached by the inexplicable cold-blooded extra-judicial killing of the deceased in the custody of the 1st to 3rd respondents.


“Nothing can ever be more barbaric and nastier than this kind of death in the hands of law enforcement agents whose statutory and constitutional duty is to protect lives and property.


“By not filing any process in this case, I presume that the 1st–3rd respondents are least perturbed about such a loss of a citizen’s life in their custody and the outcome of this suit.



“Where it is established that the fundamental right of a citizen has been breached, the law is trite that damages in compensation legally and naturally follow every act of violation of a citizen’s fundamental right,” he said.


The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mary Kajo, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/600/2023, sued the Nigeria Police Force, its Inspector General, Benue State Commissioner of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation, as 1st to 4th respondents, respectively.


In the affidavit she deposed to on May 2, 2023, Mary averred that her husband, a plumber, was arrested, detained and tortured by the police and eventually executed without trial.


She said Mark was arrested by officers of the police on Jan. 1, 2018 around Wurukum Market in Makurdi.


According to her, on January 1, 2018, her husband left home for Wurukum Market to purchase medicine for their ailing child, who woke up that morning feeling ill but did not return home nor did he call to check up on the sick child.


She said the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Benue State Police Headquarters in Makurdi told her that one Aondover in their custody made a confessional statement that he stole a car and gave it to Mark.


Mary averred that her husband was moved to Police Headquarters in Abuja and referred to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) at Area 3.


The mother of five further alleged that the police told the North-Central Zone of the Presidential Panel Hearing on SARS Reform 2018, where a petition was filed, that her husband was killed in custody by armed thugs.


The armed thugs attacked the vehicle conveying them to recover hidden arms and in the course of exchanging fire, three of the suspects were shot and died on the spot, including her husband and their corpses were deposited at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital’s morgue, in Gwagwalada.


The AGF, in its counter affidavit deposed to by Adedayo Adeboye, an official in the office, argued that none of Mary’s averments were against his office.


 

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