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altCOMMUNITY COURT ORDERS NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO PAY 50 MILLION IN COMPENSATION TO FAMILY OF DECEASED POLITICIAN

The Nigerian government has been ordered to pay 50 million naira in compensation to the family of a Nigerian politician, Ikyasa Chia, who was abducted and later killed three years ago by Policemen.

The ECOWAS court which handed down the judgment on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 said the compensation is for the ‘arbitrary, unlawful and illegal’ killing of the family’s breadwinner on 14th August 2015 by the police near Makurdi, the capital of the country’s Benue State.

In a judgment delivered by a panel of three judges led by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, the Court characterized the killing as a gross violation of the deceased’s right to life and respect for the dignity of his person as enshrined in Article 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

The court further maintained that the failure of the defendant to investigate and prosecute persons connected with the said unlawful killing of the late Chia is a violation of the rights of the Applicants as well as abdication of the Defendant`s obligation under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

‘A State has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent human rights violations and use the means at its disposal to carry out serious investigations of violations committed within its jurisdiction to identify those responsible, impose appropriate punishment and ensure the victim’s adequate compensation,’ the Court said in its 35-page judgment.

The Court noted that while the Defendant attached a statement by the officer that led the team in the arrest as well as the investigating officer, it failed to attach a ‘comprehensive report prepared by an independent officer stating the circumstances that led to the death of Ikyase Chia while no evidence was led to show that interviews and interrogations were carried out on all the officers who took part in the operation.’’

Furthermore, the Court held that in the ‘case of lethal force by State agents as in the present case, a prompt investigation is critical to ascertain whether the officers intentionally shot the deceased or it was ‘absolutely necessary’ to have shot him while trying to escape a lawful arrest.’

In Suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/29/15, the four wives and children of the late politician had asked for 500 million naira in compensation for the ‘physical assault and gruesome murder,’ of Mr. Chia, who was allegedly abducted by officers of the Police led by one Inspector Benjamin Yankyaa.

They also asked the Nigerian government to pay another N1, 000,000,000 (One Billion Naira) as compensation for the loss of the sole sponsor of their education to ameliorate their suffering and guarantee their education.

The Applicants, who filed the suit on behalf of themselves and the nine children listed in the suit, claimed that the action of the Police violated the deceased’s rights to life and dignity and the right of the children to education.

 Also on the panel are Honorable Justices, Yaya Boiro and Alioune Sall.