This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Okah Sues Prisons, Demands N500 Million for Violation of Rights

Photo: Vanguard
Charles Okah

Charles Okah, who was charged with treason for his alleged role in the October 1, 2010 explosion in Abuja has dragged the prison authorities to court, seeking N500million compensation for alleged infringement on his right to life.

He based his claims on the grounds that the prison authorities locked him inside a solitary cell while the cell was being fumigated. He stated that as a result of the chemicals he inhaled from the fumigation, he became nauseous, weak and was finding it difficult to breathe. Okah said he was not given drugs to treat himself and that when his wife brought the drugs prescribed for him, the prison authorities seized the drugs.

In the suit filed by his counsel, Mr. Festus. Keyamo, the plaintiff joined the Minister of Interior, the Comptroller of Prisons and the Nigerian Prisons Service as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants.

Okah said drugs meant for the treatment of epilepsy was prescribed for him even when he had no history of epilepsy. He asked the court to hold that the fumigation of his cell while he was inside the cell by the officers of Kuje Prisons, Abuja amounted to a breach of his fundamental human right to life and dignity of his person, as guaranteed by Sections 33 (1)and 34 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, (as amended).

He also sought a declaration that the administration on him of a drug called Epilim Sodium Viproate, (ESV), primarily used for the management of epilepsy, when he was not epileptic and had no history of epilepsy, by the officers of Kuje Prisons, Abuja amounted to a breach of his fundamental human right to life and dignity of his person as guaranteed by Sections 33 (1)and 34 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, (as amended).

He further asked the court to declare that the intentional denial of him of medication for the treatment of his hypertension and high blood pressure, by the officers of Kuje Prisons, Abuja amounted to a breach of the fundamental human right to life and dignity of his person, as guaranteed by Sections 33 (1) and 34 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, (as amended).

He asked the court for an order mandating the officers of Kuje Prisons, Abuja to allow him access to proper medication as and when due.

He asked for an order restraining the officers of Kuje Prisons, Abuja from further administering the drug called Epilim Sodium Viproate, (ESV), primarily used for the ailment of epilepsy, and any other harmful drug on him.

His trial for treason was stalled by the failure of the federal government to furnish the Federal High Court in Abuja with his psychiatric evaluation report. The trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, had however called on the authority of the National Hospital to work on the evaluation report within time.

Okah is being prosecuted alongside Obi Nwabueze over the October 1, 2010 bomb explosion in Abuja that killed about 12 Nigerians, while scores sustained wounds.

The accused persons are charged with a one-count charge with 22 particulars of overt acts of treason and another eight-count charge of terrorism.

At the last adjournment, Justice Kolawole had ordered that three psychiatric specialists from the National Hospital Abuja should examine his mental status to ascertain his real state of health and to know if he should continue to stand trial.

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