By Effe Onodjae
An Enugu State High Court has declared the killing of late Philip Okoro of Umuobira Village, Nkpologu in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State by one Chijioke Ezugwu, the Chief Security Office to Uzo-Uwani Local Government Chairman and his vigilante men as unlawful, barbaric, wicked, callous, reprehensible and violates the deceased’s fundamental rights to life and dignity of humanity.
Trial judge in the matter is Justice Martha Onuoha.
Mr. Pius Okoro, the father of Philip Okoro (the deceased) had approached the court, seeking the enforcement of the latter’s fundamental rights to life and dignity, following the unfortunate shooting and killing of the deceased on July 29, 2022, by trigger happy agents of Uzo-Uwani council chairman led by Ezugwu, which incident caused outrage and violent protests in the community.
Delivering judgment in the matter, Justice Onuoha agreed with the applicant’s counsel that the killing of the deceased was unlawful, extrajudicial and contrary to sections 33, 34 and 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The court condemned in the strongest of terms, the reckless and mindless action of the vigilante men, which led to the untimely death of young Philip Okoro, adding further that the courts must rise against impunity and recklessness of trigger-happy security officers employed to bear arms and protect the citizens.
The court, consequently, awarded and ordered the Chairman of Uzo-Uwani council, Ezugwu and his vigilante men to jointly and severally pay to the family of the deceased the sum of N20 million as compensation.
Reacting to the judgment, V. N. Ayogu, counsel for the applicant, described the judgment as a sound and well-researched judgment anchored on sound principles of law and judicial reasoning.
He commended the court for rising to the occasion in defence of the constitutionally guaranteed and judicially protected rights of the deceased, stating that the decision would go a long way to assuage the loss of the family of the deceased.
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