Nigerian News

Court orders police to pay woman N100m over husband’s death in custody

An FCT High Court has ordered the Nigeria Police and Inspector-General to pay N100 million to Mrs Mary Kajo over the alleged arrest, unlawful detention, torture and death of her husband, Mark Kajo.

The applicant sued the Nigeria Police Force, its Inspector-General, Benue State Commissioner of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation, as 1st to 4th respondents, respectively.

In the affidavit she deposed to on May 2, 2023, Mary averred that her husband, a plumber, was arrested, detained and tortured by the police on January 1, 2018 around Wurukum Market in Makurdi and eventually executed without trial.

She said he left home for Wurukum Market to purchase medicine for their ailing child but did not return home nor did he call to check up on the sick child.

Accordin to Mrs Kajo, the Benue State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Makurdi told her that one Aondover in their custody made a confessional statement that he stole a car and gave it to Mark.

The mother of five further alleged that the police told the North-Central Zone of the Presidential Panel Hearing on SARS Reform 2018, where a petition was filed, that her husband was killed in custody by armed thugs.

Delivering judgement, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the police authorities to pay the sum of N500,000 as the cost of filing the suit.

He directed a five percent post-judgment interest on the fine until the judgement debt is fully settled.

The judge, who observed that the police authorities did not challenge the case of the applicant, said: “The position of the law remains that affidavit evidence which is not challenged or controverted howsoever, is deemed admitted and can be relied upon by a court.

Ekwo added; “I find that the applicant has established that the fundamental rights of her husband, Mr Mark Kajo, have been breached by the inexplicable cold-blooded extra-judicial killing of the deceased in the custody of the 1st to 3rd respondents.

“Nothing can ever be more barbaric and nastier than this kind of death in the hands of law enforcement agents whose statutory and constitutional duty is to protect lives and property.

“By not filing any process in this case, I presume that the 1st–3rd respondents are least perturbed about such a loss of a citizen’s life in their custody and the outcome of this suit.

“Where it is established that the fundamental right of a citizen has been breached, the law is trite that damages in compensation legally and naturally follow every act of violation of a citizen’s fundamental right”.