Ndukwe Ekekwe, a Nigerian merchant who sustained a spinal cord injury after being beaten by police officers in Lagos state, grumbled on Tuesday May 11, as the Lagos State Judicial Panel investigating police violence in the state awarded him N7.5m compensation.
In 2018, police officers threw Ekekwe off a two-story building at Alaba International Market in Ojo Local Government Area (LGA), breaking his spine.
Ndukwe told the panel in his petition that he was wrongfully arrested at the market on February 16, taken to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) headquarters in Ikeja, stripped naked, and brutalised in a torture chamber. He said that the operatives returned with him the next day to his three Alaba stores, smashed the doors open with hammers, and looted his phone accessories. Ekekwe, who is actually in a wheelchair, claims that after raising an alarm, officers bundled him to the second floor of the building and threw him off. He told the panel headed by Justice Doris Okuwobi that he was accused of having stolen phones in his store.
Ekwekwe, who attended the panel with his mother, claimed that he sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of the fall and has since been treated for it. Inspector Haruna Hamisu was named as the SARS team’s chief.
On Tuesday, May 11, Justice Okuwobi ruled that the police had failed to prove Ekekwe’s allegations were false. She ruled that Ekekwe provided credible and compelling proof of police brutality while in their custody.
“Police stabbed the petitioner with a knife, fired a shot at him, and smashed his teeth. The respondents did not refute these pieces of evidence,” she said.
She went on to say that the tribunal determined that the petitioner’s constitutional rights had been violated and awarded N7.5 million “as compensation for the abuse and inhumane treatment meted out to him by the respondent while in their custody.” The panel also recommended that an investigation be conducted to identify and discipline the officers who assaulted and brutalised the complainant.
When they heard the panel’s decision, Ekekwe and his family members were outraged, claiming that they had spent over N30 million trying to make him walk again, all to no avail. His mother burst into tears.
“What do you want me to do with that money?” What happens if I sell my land, my property, and all of my belongings? What do I want to use it for, therapy or what?” Ekekwe said
They later signed the cheque after speaking with their lawyer.