Court: Victor Ogbonna gets victory, police to pay N3 billion in damages

Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the police to pay N3 billion in damages to Victor Ogbonna, a spare parts trader at Ikokwu market in Port Harcourt, over his brutalisation by members of the disbanded Eagle Crack unit of Rivers State Command in 2019.

The Court, presided by Justice Stephen Daylop-Pam, gave the order in its ruling on a fundamental human rights suit filed by Ogbonna against the Inspector General of Police and eight others over his torture and brutalisation by police operatives of the Eagle Crack Unit.

This is the fourth judgement  secured by Ogbonna’s lawyer, Emmanuel Okpala, in favour of victims brutalised by operatives of the Eagle Crack unit.

Previously, different courts have awarded damages to Ifeanyi Osuji (N5 million), Ifeanyi Onyekwere (N5 million), and the family of the deceased Chima Ikwunado (N75 million) over their alleged torture by the operatives of the police unit.

Okpala expressed satisfaction with the judgement, stating that it will serve as a deterrent to police officers who engage in illegal torture and violence against innocent citizens arrested for mere suspicion of committing a crime.

“These judgements show that the courts will hold Police officers accountable for their actions,” he said.

The suits followed the arrest of five mechanics for allegedly driving against traffic in 2019 by the operatives of the police unit.

However, the police later alleged that the five suspected were cultists and subjected them to severe torture while they were in their custody.

This led to the death of one of the traders, identified as Chima Ikwunado’s death.

The death of Ikwunado and the brutality of the suspects generated outcry and condemnations from the public and human rights agencies.

The surviving victims, including Ogbonna, sustained physical and psychological injuries.

The Court found that the Police officers’ actions constituted torture and inhuman treatment and a violation of Ogbonna’s fundamental human rights.

As a result, the court awarded him N3 billion in damages to compensate for his suffering and deter future abuses.

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Rita Elenwo

Rita Aletor- Elenwo, is a professional journalist with experience in broadcast, print and online reporting. A proud citizen of Edo state, Nigeria (Esan South East Local Government) Rita had her first degree in philosophy from Ebonyi State University (2008), PGD, in Communication from the University of Port Harcourt (2020), and currently in pursuit of an MSC degree in communication. Rita (nee Aletor-) is happily married with lovely children.

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