By Bose Adelaja
Three years ago, a retiree in Lagos, Sunday Awoyera, was shot by a trigger happy cop, leaving him with a shattered jaw. The victim had thereafter appealed to the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force to take steps to bring the culprit to book. When his appeal appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, he engaged the services of a legal practitioner and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, who took up the case.
This produced the desired result as the culprit was discharged from service. It did not end there. The Ikeja High court was to rule in favour of the applicant who obtained judgement on February 18, 2010 over a N10 million suit filed against the Nigeria Police.
Two years have gone since the judgement with Awoyera unable to enjoy any respite from his ordeal as his pains linger. This is because there is as yet no indication that the Police is ready to pay the N10m meant to compensate him for the damage he suffered and assuage the pain and torture he suffered through the inhuman treatment meted to him by the Nigeria Police.
This 63-year-old retiree of a private company in Lagos, was in company of his family when he was shot by Constable Alibor Narman at Atan Kekere, Ipaja, Lagos, around 8pm on Saturday August 2, 2009.
Social function at Igando
Constable Narman allegedly shot Awoyera on the jaw at a checkpoint mounted by three policemen at Atan Kekere, Ipaja. Awoyera and some members of his family were on their way from a social function at Igando when the unfortunate scene took place.
‘’We were 18 in number. On getting to the checkpoint, we were flagged down by three policemen. One of them who peeped into the bus said ‘na party people’.
Suddenly Narman, who was a little farther away from the man who checked us, came along as we were moving and started hitting the bus with the butt of his gun, shouting that we should stop. I explained to him that his colleague had already done the checking and certified us okay. Narman got angry at this point and started threatening that he would shoot me if I argued with him.
He said: ‘I will shoot you and run away, and nothing would happen’. Everybody in the bus was begging him not to shoot. At a point, he aimed at the ground beside the front tyre and fired. He immediately cocked his gun which he pointed at me through the driver’s window and shot me point-blank range in the jaw. That was the last thing I knew until I woke up at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos,” Awoyera recalled with pain.
Although Awoyera is alive to tell his story, the incident led to the severe damage of his jaw which has disfigured him both mentally and physically. Also, it has affected his finances as he could no longer in a position to take care of his family and perform other obligations requiring finance.
Awoyera who is a native of Ile-Ife, Osun State, said he has spent diverted all he had in seeking treatment in order to regain his health. This has even led to his going bankrupt since his health challenge which has deteriorated seriously has prevented him from carrying on with his business.
In year 2010, he underwent a surgery which led to a damage to his dentition. This unfortunate development resulted to his having to use artificial teeth to replace his natural ones. Consequently, talking has become for him an excruciating experience due to the attendant pains.
Awoyera showed Vanguard Metro a copy of the court injunction issued under Suit No: ID/768M/2008 before Honourable Justice J.O.K. Oyewole and it read thus: “I accordingly declare that the shooting of the Applicant on Saturday, August 2nd, 2008 by the respondent is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the Applicant’s fundamental rights to life and dignity of human person guaranteed by Sections 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and Articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter on people’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
“It is appropriate that the applicant be compensated in damages that would redress the pain and torture he suffered and also demonstrate to law enforcement agents, particularly those on interactive surveillance, including road blocks that as public officials they should not wantonly violate the rights of citizens from whose tax they are paid and for whose benefit they were engaged.
“In light of the above and considering the totality of the circumstances of this case, I hereby award the full sum of N10 million claimed…”.
As at the time of filing this report, he has been recommended for a major surgery abroad that will gulp 20,000 Pounds. Unfortunately he cannot afford the amount. His plight is made worse by the fact that his children have been thrown out of school and his family almost in disarray.
He has, however, appealed to the new Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Mohammed to look into his plight. ‘’People have told me the new IG is kind-hearted, he should deliver me from my pains. I have nobody to run to, I need to undergo the surgery so as to regain my health. IG, Please, please, please,’’ he pleaded.