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PFN threatens to sue govts over Boko Haram killings

LAGOS—THE Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, has threatened to sue ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Bunu Sheriff; Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, for the mindless killing of Christians by a Muslim fundamentalist sect —Boko Haram— in parts of the country last year.

Reacting to a landmark judgment delivered Tuesday by Judge Mohammed Mustapha of the Maiduguri High Court who held the state officials liable for the death of the father-in-law of the sect leader, Alhaji Baa Fagu, in police custody, awarded N100 million to the family of the deceased leader of the sect who was killed in Police custody, PFN National President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, hailed the judge for the courageous  judgment.

According to him, the judgment is significant and crucial for religious harmony in the country, stating that Christians in the North who had been on the receiving end, had cried their hearts out to no avail, for adequate compensations for all the destruction of worship places and the loss of lives.

The PFN president, therefore, argued that if the president and the state officials could be held liable for the extra-judicial murder of the father-in-law of the sect leader in police custody, it stands to reason that the same officers should be held responsible for the mindless murder of Christians in different parts of the state and beyond.

Describing the judgment as landmark, he said, he will immediately consult with the legal officers of the Fellowship with a view to instituting similar legal actions against the same officers and the state.

“For too long, the Christian Community had kept quiet, hoping that one day reason will prevail and the state chief executives will on their own compensate the victims and rebuild their demolished churches and homes,” he said, adding that everybody should be given an opportunity to worship his/her God the way he/she wants.

Killing innocent persons in their churches for their belief tantamount to violation of their fundamental human rights to life and freedom of worship which is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, he argued.

It will be recalled that the Maiduguri High Court on Tuesday in its ruling, held the state officials including the Borno State Attorney-General, Justice Zanna Malam Gana liable for the extra-judicial killing of Fagu, who was allegedly murdered in Police custody on July 31, 2009.

Delivering his judgment in a case filed by Fagu’s family, Judge Mustapha held that the detention and subsequent extra-judicial murder of the deceased by the respondents for being an in-law to the Boko Haram sect leader violated his fundamental right ti life and fair hearing as enshrined under Sections 33, 34 and 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.”

Continuing, the judge held in part: “President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Inspector-General of Police, Executive Governor of Borno State as well as the state Commissioner for Justice, who stood as 1st to 5th respondents are hereby jointly and severally ordered to pay the applicant the sum of N100 million as compensation for the unlawful murder of his father.”

Pastor Oritsejafor said the legal proceedings will soon be filed in the same court, praying that the same judge will sum up the courage to return the same verdict as he had done in the prevailing case.

Oritsejafor argued that monetary compensation cannot bring back the lives of the victims but if governments are made to pay huge compensations for such acts of human violations they might take security issues much more seriously in their areas of influence.


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