The Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, on Monday, February 1, awarded N5 million damages against the Nigeria Police Force and the Inspector General of Police over the abuse of a woman, Tola Azeez, in Osun State.
Tola was walking along Odo Ori Market in Iwo, to buy a drug for a relative when the officers who were enforcing the lockdown, descended on her, flogging her mercilessly with their whips during the lockdown period. The video of the officer assaulting her went viral in April 2020.
The state police command identified and arrested the erring officers, Ikuesan Taiwo, an inspector and Abass Ibrahim, a corporal.
To protest the assault, a fundamental human right enforcement suit was filed by a lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, on behalf of Ms Azeez.
The police counsel, F.B Osei, argued that Messrs Taiwo and Ibrahim were agents of the Nigeria Police Force, and that the Nigeria Police Force and the Inspector General of Police could not be held liable for the acts and omission of its officers.
This was countered by Mr Olajensgbesi who said the officers carried out the assault during an official assignment as agents of the police force.
While delivering judgement on the case on Monday, the presiding judge, Justice Ayo Emmanuel, resolved the matter in favour of the applicant. He held that the actions of the offending officers in the discharge of their official duties as agents of the police amounted to an infringement of the Fundamental Right to Dignity of Ms Azeez, a liability the Nigeria Police Force must shoulder.
He then awarded the sum of N5 million as aggravated and general damages against the police.
Tola also took to her Twitter handle to react to the judgement.
”Happy new month people. According to the Judgement delivered by Justice Ayo Emmanuel at the federal high court in Oshogbo this morning, a sum of 5 million naira has been awarded to be paid to me by the Nigeria Police force as damages regarding to the brutality meted against me during the lock down. You all stood for me, you all stood by me. I am grateful. It is not over until it is over. The fight against brutality of all forms have just began. Thank you so much. Tola Azeez.”
This is the clip of the video that went viral during lockdown of the assaulted woman
Video shows police officers (identied as Sergent Iku Esan & his colleagues ) flogging a woman to enforce stay at home order in Iwo, Osun State.#StayHome #StaySafe #COVID #COVIDIOT #Nigeria pic.twitter.com/gDBTY8eWHQ— OYOGist (@oyogist) April 18, 2020