After more than twenty years of painful mourning, justice finally came to families of four Ladipo Traders, who were extra-judicially killed by Policemen in 2001, as Justice Olufunke Sule-Amzat of a Lagos High Court sitting in Yaba, ordered the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation to pay N400 million as compensation to families of four traders.
The four traders Anthony Ezenwafor, Chukwuemeka Ezeofor, Izuchukwu Ezeama, and Aloysius Osigwe, popularly Known as the Ekwulobia Four, because they hail from Ekwulobia, Anambra State, were traders at Ladipo International Auto Spare Parts market before they were killed by Policemen attached to Surulere Division on July 21, 2001, extra-judicially.
The trial Judge, while delivering judgement last Thursday in the fundamental rights suit filed on behalf of the deceased by human rights activists, Akaraka Chinwe Ezeonara, Chris Okpara, Remigus Ezenwane and Ifeanyi Okoye, ordered the Police to pay the family of the deceased N400 million as compensation .
Justice Sule-Amzat however, exonerated the Lagos State Government (the 3rd Respondent in the suit) through its Attorney-General, from the killing.
Aside IGP, the Judge also found former Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Marvellous Akpoyibo (Rtd), culpable.
The other five Respondents in the suit failed to appear before the court, despite having been served with the court processes and hearing notices.
The Judge in her judgement, held that the fundamental liberties of the Ekwulobia Four, including their rights to life, and dignity of the human person were clearly breached by the Police Officers, as they were executed despite not being sentenced by any court of law, nor were they found to have resisted arrest.
She further held that the Police are empowered to investigate crimes, and not to kill citizens. “The Officers mismanaged their firearms, as there was no evidence of provocation.
“There has been a growing incidence of Police shooting people at the slightest opportunity, under the guise of carrying out arrests. A firearm is prima facie a dangerous weapon, the handler owes the public the duty to handle the same with reasonable care.
“Their actions are not in accordance with the provisions of the Police Act, and amounts to a violation of their fundamental rights.” (ThisDay)