A Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday, ordered the Nigerian Police Force, NPF to pay the sum of N100 million to the family of a woman lawyer, late Patricia Onyeabo, who died while in Police custody due to lack of medical care, as compensation.
The judgment of the court was sequel to one billion Naira suit slammed on the Inspector-General of Police, IGP by the daughter of the deceased, Miss Amaka Onyeanbo.
Joined as co- respondents in the suit were Lagos state Commissioner of Police and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Nigerian Railway Corporation headquarters.
The deceased, late Mrs. Onyeabo, before her death on May 16, 2014 was the Legal Adviser/Secretary to the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC.
Amaka in an affidavit sworn to in support of amended originating motion filed before the court by her lawyer, Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN brought pursuant to section 6(6) (b), 33, 34, 35, 36, and 46 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999,as amended; articles 4,5,6 and 7 of African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ratification and enforcement), Act Cap A9 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 is asking for a declaration that the unsubstantiated indictment in a letter, leading to the harassment, detention, intimidation, humiliation and restriction of movement of her late mother since April 25, 2014, until her death on May 16, 2014 by the respondents are frivolous, vindictive, wicked, smack of gross impunity, unlawful, unconstitutional and breach of the fundamental rights of the deceased.
The lawyer therefore asked for an order of the court directing the respondents to tender unreserved apology to her and her entire family in any two daily newspapers circulating within Nigeria and an order directing the respondents to pay her family the sum of one billion Naira, being general and aggravated damage for unlawful detention, harassment and intimidation of her late mother in breach of her fundamental rights that eventually led to her painful and premature death, the complete degradation, loss of reputation and goodwill of her late mother’s family built by sheer dint of hard work, the collective shame and ostracism suffered by her entire family as a result of the lawless and abusive of her by the respondents. The applicant averred that her deceased mother received a letter on April 25, 2014, signed by the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s Managing Director, Engr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, alleging that she conspired with 69 other staff of the Corporation to embezzle over N1.5 billion between 2011 to 2013 before her retirement from the Corporation in February 2014, upon attainment of the statutory age of retirement, and that no report of the purported finding was made available to her late mother prior to her retirement in February 2014, or at the point being communicated the said decision reached.
She averred further, that in the letter received by her late mother, she was informed that the aggregated sum of N16.5 million over the period of three years (2011-2013), had been traced directly to her personal accounts as proceeds of the alleged conspiracy to defraud the Corporation of N1.5 billion of pension funds and her purported benefit in the alleged embezzlement conspiracy.
However, the respondent, in a counter affidavit filed and argued before the court, contended that
miss Amaka has no locus standi to institute the action on behalf of her mother.
In his judgement on Monday, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, while citing series of authorities, “held that the Nigerian Police failed in their responsibility, the applicant has liberty to life while in the custody of the Nigerian Police but was denied thereby leading to her life being terminated”.
The Judge argued further that, “if she had access to hospital she would not have died, but the police deprived her the right to visit hospital to treat her ailment,” and therefore awarded the applicant general damages in the sum of N100 million.


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