10 October 2017

Nigeria: Group Charges Judiciary to Reform Its Procedures

Access to justice (A2J) has charged the judiciary to reform its procedures so as to reduce the time taken to deliver justice in disputes. The group gave the charge following its experience in handling a case that lasted nine years.

It said they filed a suit on the 28 of April 2009 on behalf of the family of late Mr. Olajide Enilari against the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Attorney general of the federation and three others, but it took the court nine years to pass judgment against the defendants.

In a statement signed by its senior programme officer, Ms. Chinelo Chinweze, the group said they have been representing the plaintiff in the matter and challenged the brutal assault of Mr. Enilari, a flour merchant by officers of the Nigerian Army.

"The assault took place on the 27 of January 2009 along Airways junction in Apapa, Lagos. Due to head injuries sustained during the assault, Mr. Olajide died on the 29 of January 2009, in Lagos" they said, adding that the case commenced at the Federal High Court, Lagos, where the defendants raised the issue of self-defense, alleging that the deceased first hit the military personnel driving the vehicle and ran away.

The group said: "The defence counsel further argued that it was in the course of apprehending the deceased that an angry mob gathered with dangerous weapons attacking the officers, who then used the deceased as a human shield, to ward off the crowd at the scene of the crime.

"After careful consideration of the evidence (oral and documentary) of the parties in the suit, however, the court found no merit in this defence.

"The court was of the view that it was inconceivable that an armed mob would attack military officers for merely apprehending a civilian and likewise incomprehensible that none of the officers sustained any injury from the attack.

"The court thereby ruled, among other points, that the assault, which resulted in the death of the deceased was unlawful, wrong and a gross violation of the deceased's right to life."

The group expressed their sadness in the case that took long before judgment was passed. "This climate of impunity feeds the recklessness and unlawfulness of the actions of security forces and law enforcement agencies in varied contexts.

"We see it in Mr. Enilari's case but it is also seen in the conduct of counter-terrorism warfare in the North East; in the brutal crackdown against members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and of IPOB members."

According to the group, they will remain committed to ensuring that security forces and law enforcement agencies are accountable for the gross violations of human rights they commit.


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