Funke Busari, Lagos
A-39 years old Marc Chidibere Nwadi who was arrested by the officers of the Nigeria Police Force, now has a reason to smile as the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Restitution and Inquiry set up to investigate cases of police brutality especially involving officers of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, has awarded him the sum of N7.5 million on Friday.
Chidibere Nwadi was arrested, detained, tortured by police and later remanded in prison custody for six years awaiting trial but the Panel has reverse his pain with a whooping sum as compensation for what he went through during his ordeal.
The petitioner whose hope of being a journalist was dashed by the police when he just came to Lagos in 1999 and could not find his relative is rewarded for violations perpetrated against him by some police officers.
Handing down the judgement, Chairperson of the Panel, Retired Justice Doris Okwuobi said the panel found out that, “the petitioner was tortured and abused by officers of the Nigerian Police force without any justification.
“His experience was excavated by his inability to provide a bribe.
“This inability to provide bribe led to tons of charge and as a result, he was awaiting trial in Kirikiri maximum security prison for six years.
“The duration of six years for awaiting trial was not justifiable to his human rights and procedure of the system.
Explaining further, Justice Okwuobi held that, “the petitioner was incarcerated by the Nigeria Police Force at the prime of his life without justification for six years and was not tried or sentenced for any crime despite enduring six years in prison and losing a vital part of his youth and opportunities. We hereby give an award of N7.5 million to the petitioner.
“The constitutional time frame within which suspects in custody has to be charged to the court must be observed at all times.
“Failure of Investigating Police Officer to charge the suspect to court within the prescribed time as stipulated in the constitution should resolve in being sanctioned by the Nigerian Police Force and being suspended for six months without pay. Other officers directly involved in the investigation should be suspended for three months without pay.
“A daily audit of what should be carried out by DPO and Human right desk for the purpose of ensuring that suspects are charged to court in the stipulated time frame in the constitution and incident of extortion are reduced and eventually eliminated.
“Six officers should be made to undergo a minimum of four training in a year on self-restraint and human right. Such training should priorities the need of all officers to take personal responsibility for their actions. Arresting officers should ensure relatives of people in custody are aware of their arrest and circumstance of their arrest.
The petitioner had appeared before the panel on Saturday, November 28, 2020 before the panel where he testified that he hated the Nigerian police since 1999.
He appeared without legal counsel and narrated how the Nigerian police killed his dream of becoming a journalist.
Following the judgement, Chididebere expressed appreciation and said he is not particularly happy about the money but the fact that his story was heard and he got compensated.
His words, “My happiness may not be about the money but I was given an opportunity to be heard which was denied from me, for six years I was not taken to any court, I could have died. So I am very grateful Lagos State judicial panel was able to compensate me. I want to thank the Lagos State government too for this panel so people can be heard.
He also said his faith has been restored in the Nigerian justice system when he was about filing his petition, there were assumptions the previous panel set up in the past did not yield a fruitful results.