A Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo has awarded N5 million in damages against the Nigeria Police Force and the Inspector General of Police over the assault of a woman, Tola Azeez, in Osun State.
A video of the officers assaulting the young lady went viral during the lockdown in April 2020.
In the video, Azeez was walking around Odo Ori Market in Iwo, to buy a drug for a relation when the officers who were enforcing the lockdown, descended on her, and flogged her mercilessly with whips.
The state police command had reportedly identified and arrested the erring officers, an inspector, Ikuesan Taiwo and Abass Ibrahim, a corporal.
To protest the assault, a fundamental human rights enforcement suit was filed by a lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, on behalf of Azeez.
The police counsel, F.B. Osei, argued that Taiwo and Ibrahim were agents of the Force, and that the Nigeria Police Force and the IGP could not be held liable for the acts and omissions of its officers.
This was countered by her lawyer, Olajengbesi, who said the officers carried out the assault during an official assignment as agents of the police force.
While delivering judgement on the case on Monday, the presiding judge, Ayo Emmanuel, resolved the matter in favour of the applicant.
He held that the actions of the offending officers in the discharge of their official duties as agents of the police amounted to an infringement of the fundamental right to dignity of Azeez, a liability the Nigeria Police Force must shoulder.
He then awarded the sum of N5 million as damages against the police.
Tola took to her Twitter handle to react to the judgement.
”Happy new month people. According to the judgement delivered by Justice Ayo Emmanuel at the Federal High Court in Osogbo this morning, a sum of 5 million naira has been awarded to be paid to me by the Nigeria Police Force as damages regarding the brutality meted against me.
“During the lockdown. You all stood for me, you all stood by me. I am grateful. It is not over until it is over. The fight against brutality of all forms has just begun. Thank you so much. Tola Azeez.”
One of the lawyers who also worked on the case, Abiodun Sonaike, tweeted, “Remember this woman? Went viral for being lashed by @PoliceNG officers during the lockdown at Iwo. By God’s grace, we were able to get justice for her today. N5m awarded as damages. Great to work with Pelumi Olajengbesi and @datsportslawyer on this. #EndPoliceBrutality #EndSARS
”Good afternoon people of God, please Congratulate @fabhally for her victory. As per those asking whether they will pay, I can assure you this is not audio money.”