A Nigerian trader, Ndukwe Ekekwe, who suffered a spinal cord injury after he was battered by police officers in Lagos state, grumbled on Tuesday May 11, as the Lagos State Judicial Panel probing police brutality in the state awarded N7.5m compensation to him.
Ekekwe’s spine was broken after he was thrown off a two-story building at Alaba International Market in Ojo Local Government Area (LGA) by police officers in 2018.
In his petition, Ndukwe told the panel that he was unlawfully arrested at the market on February 16, taken to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) head office at Ikeja, stripped naked and brutalized in a torture chamber. He said the operatives went back with him the next day to his three shops at Alaba, broke the doors open with hammers and looted his phone accessories. Ekekwe who currently uses a wheel chair, said after he raised an alarm, the officers bundled him to the second floor of the building and threw him off it. He told the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel that he was accused of having stolen phones in his shop.
Ekwekwe who came to the panel in company of his mother, said he suffered a spinal cord injury after the fall and has since been treating it. He identified the leader of the SARS team as Inspector Haruna Hamisu.
Delivering judgment on Tuesday May 11, Justice Okuwobi held that the police failed to prove that Ekekwe’s claims were false. She held that Ekekwe submitted credible and strong evidence on being brutalized by the police while in their custody.
“The police stabbed the petitioner with a knife, hit his head with a gun, and broke his teeth. These pieces of evidence were not debunked by the respondents.”she said
She added that the panel found out there was a violation of the petitioner’s fundamental right and awarded N7.5 million “as compensation for the torture and inhumane treatment meted out to him by the respondent while in their custody.” The panel also recommended that an investigation be carried out to fish out the officers who abused and brutalized the petitioner and they should be sanctioned.
On hearing the panel’s verdict, Ekekwe and his family members expressed anger, stating that they had spent over N30million trying to help him walk again, to no avail. His mum broke down in tears.
“Wetin I wan use that money do? I sell my land, my property, all my goods, wetin be that money? Wetin I wan use am do, for treatment abi for what?” Ekekwe said
They later accepted the cheque after their counsel spoke to them.