In a landmark case for human rights in Nigeria, a Federal High Court in Abuja has awarded Mrs. Mary Kajo the sum of N100 million ($218,000) in compensation for the arrest, unlawful detention, torture, and alleged death of her husband, Mark Kajo, at the hands of the Nigerian police.
Presiding Judge Inyang Ekwo delivered the judgment, declaring the killing of Mark Kajo as “wrongful, illegal, and unconstitutional.” He cited violations of Mark’s fundamental rights under the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Mrs. Kajo against the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector-General of Police, the Benue State Commissioner of Police, and the Attorney-General of the Federation. In her affidavit, Mrs. Kajo described the events leading to her husband’s death. Mark Kajo, a plumber, was arrested by police officers in Makurdi in January 2018. He was accused of receiving a stolen car, a claim Mrs. Kajo vehemently denied. According to her account, Mark was transferred to police headquarters in Abuja and later died in custody under unclear circumstances. The police initially claimed he was killed in a shootout with armed thugs, but Mrs. Kajo contested this narrative.
Justice Ekwo, in his judgment, condemned the police’s inaction and lack of remorse. He stated, “By not filing any process in this case, I presume that the 1st— 3rd respondents are least perturbed about such loss of a citizen’s life in their custody and the outcome of this suit.”
“I find that the applicant has established that the fundamental rights of her husband, Mr. Mark Kajo, have been breached by the inexplicable cold-blooded extra-judicial killing of the deceased in the custody of the 1st to 3rd respondents.
“Nothing can ever be more barbaric and nastier than this kind of death in the hands of law enforcement agents whose statutory and constitutional duty is to protect lives and property. “By not filing any process in this case, I presume that the 1st— 3rd respondents are least perturbed about such loss of a citizen’s life in their custody and the outcome of this suit.
“Where it is established that the fundamental right of a citizen has been breached, the law is trite that damages in compensation, legally and naturally follow every act of violation of citizen’s fundamental right;” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mary Kajo had, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/600/2023, sued the Nigeria Police Force, I-G , Benue Commissioner of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as 1st to 4th respondents respectively.