Ondo court slams police for killing man over N50 bribe, awards N7.9m to deceased’s widow
A Federal High Court sitting in Akure yesterday awarded the sum of N7.9 million to Mrs. Queen Akarewan, wife of the late Christopher Akarewan, who was shot dead by two police officers over refusal to pay N50 bribe.
The Guardian gathered that the deceased, Akarewan, who was an Urhobo man and commercial motorcyclist, was on his way home when the incident occurred on October 13, 2011 at Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State.
He was said to have offered N30 instead of N50 when the police stopped him at a checkpoint and a heated argument ensued between him and the policemen identified as John Aghaulor and Igodi Gbefamoghan, who were on bank guard duty.
Though investigation revealed that the erring officers: Aghaulor and Gbefamoghan, had been dismissed by authorities of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), counsel to the defendants, Edward Ojemu, who held brief for Tolu Abisagbo, said the plaintiff had no right to institute the first instance. He explained that the police had no link with the said crime committed.
While delivering the judgment, Justice Abdu Dogo, noted that the victim’s life was unlawfully terminated contrary to Section 33 of Nigerian Constitution. According to him, the section of the constitution empowers anybody who has interest in existence of person whose life is taken unlawfully to take redress in court.
Dogo stated that the perpetrators were still under the service of Nigeria Police Force when the crime was committed. He, therefore, ordered the Nigeria Police Force and the state Commissioner for Police to pay the sum of N7.9 million as damage to the plaintiff, Mrs. Akarewan, the deceased widow.
The judge, who condemned in strong terms the gruesome, unlawful and extra-judicial killing of the deceased over a bribe of N50, further ordered that the money be paid within 30 days of the judgment.
Meanwhile, the widow, through her counsel, Mr. Tope Temokun, had approached the court on January 5, 2013 to claim monetary damages of N8 million against the NPF, the Commissioner for Police and the police officers alleged to be responsible.
Temokun lamented that the loss of the victim had wreaked multiplier effects on the deceased’s wife, four children and his aged mother because he was their breadwinner.
He lauded the verdict, saying “the best day in court to the society is that day in which the poor citizen of this country leaves the court, reaffirming the old saying that the court is still the last hope of the common man.”
In another development, a pastor of Champion Arena, Ebom in Abi local government area of Cross River State, George Lifted, and a commercial motorcyclist, have been murdered in the state. The incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday along Adim in Ebom.
The pastor was being conveyed in a motorcycle to Assigha in Yakurr local government area of Cross River through Adim when the incident occurred. It was gathered that the pastor was from Yakurr while the motorcyclist was from Ebom, one of the war-torn communities that had issues with Usumutong, Ediba and Affafayin, all in Abi local government area.
The village head of Ediba in Abi, Uvara Imong Anani, said: “I am aware of the renewed communal clash and the killing of a pastor and his boy. The pastor was from Assigha in Yakurr local government area while the cyclist was from Ebom in Abi local government area of Cross River. The people of Assigha came on Saturday and collected the headless body of their sons to their place for burial.