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Court strikes out suit challenging police’ alleged killing of Ladipo traders 

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courtJustice Oyindamola Ogala of a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere has struck out the fundamental rights application filed against the Inspector General of police and others over the alleged killing of four Ladipo traders by the Nigerian police. ‎

The slain youths were Anthony Ezenwafor, Chukwuemeka Ezeofor, Izuchukwu Ezeama and Aloysius Osigwe were allegedly murdered by the police on July 1, 2001 at their residence in Surulere, Lagos.

Fellow traders at the market led by Akaraka Chinweike Ezeonara,  Chris Okpara, Remiguis Ezenwanne and Ifeanyi Okoye , had  dragged the Inspector General of Police, Attorney General of the Federation, Attorney General of Lagos State, Commissioner of Police Lagos State, Chief Marvellous Akpoyibo, who was then the Area C  Police Command, as well as the Divisional Police  Officer (DPO), Aguda Police Station, as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th respondents respectively,  before the court for the violation of rights of the slain youths.

The plaintiffs are seeking among others, an order of the court declaring that the killing of the deceased by the police officers serving under the Divisional Police Officer (D.P.O) of Aguda Police Station attached to Area C Police Command, Surulere, Lagos on Sunday July 21 was unconstitutional, extra judicial, illegal and an infringement on the right to life, liberty and dignity.

They asked for an order for payment of the sum of N4 billion as damages and compensations to the families of the said four victims for their alleged unlawful killing.

They asked for an order  directing the first and fourth defendants or any other persons or body of persons to conduct full and unbiased investigation into the incident and punitive measures taken against those found to have hands in the dastardly act.  ‎

However, in her ruling, Justice Ogala held that the application was filed unbehalf of a dead person. “ In law, a dead person is not a juristic person. This being the case, a dead person cannot be an applicant.”

She continued that the court is conscious of the preamble to the rules of the fundamental enforcement procedure and the desirability of objectives of same. Noted that the court is mindful. Of the fact that where it acts without the appropriate power or requisite jurisdiction, the entire exercise is a nullity and comes to nought.

It is pertinent to note that court is not saying that the applicants have no right to redress or actionable cause of action against the respondents, but that the fundamental rights procedure is a special and strict one which must be strictly adhere to.

This honourable court believes and find that the provisions of clause 3(e)(v) cannot vest upon dead person or deceased legal capacity to seek for the enforcement of his or her fundamental rights and that the legal incompetency cannot be redeemed by any other person of group of persons suing on his or her behalf.

“Therefore where a person on whose behalf the application is premised is dead and therefore no longer a juristic person, he cannot be an applicant under Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure as he no longer has any.Indeed the right provided for in Section 33 of the Constitution (as amended) is a personal right that can be protected or enforced through the special procedure of the fundamental rights enforcement procedure but that procedure is extinguished at the death of the person and relief available thereafter is by an action properly commenced by Writ of summons under the rules of this court.”

The judge therefore dismissed the application for being incompetent. “In the circumstance, the honourable court finds that in this instance, the relief being claimed cannot be brought pursuant to the fundamental rights enforcement procedure and only option available to the court is to strike out the action being incompetent before it and allow the applicants take the proper avenue for the reliefs sought.”


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