On April 18, 2020 some weeks after Nigeria went into lockdown, a video of Halima Adetola being beaten with whips and a baton by two Nigerian policemen, Inspector Taiwo Ikuesan and Police Constable Ibrahim Abbas, went viral. Halima had gone to the pharmacy to buy drugs for her daughter who had an ear infection when she was accosted by a policeman while waiting for an okada to take her home. When she tried to explain why she had to leave her house, the policeman started assaulting her.
“He flogged me from under the storey building till we got beside their vehicle. And another came join him, making them two,” she told FIJ.
She kept telling them to listen to what she had to say. When the flogging didn’t stop she told them “you can’t be bartering me like this; I’m a woman”.
These plea fell on deaf ears as both Sergeant Ikuesan and Abbas used their batons and whips on all parts of her body.
Luckily for Halima, someone was recording everything on their phone. The policemen only stopped when one of their superiors came. The beatings she received left her with internal injury and scars that she carries till today. It was when she was at the hospital receiving treatment that she saw the video of her assault.
Almost a year later, after she had pressed charges and attended the orderly room trial of the two policemen, which ended in their dismissal, Justice Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court, Osogbo awarded Halima N5million in damages.
Pelumi Olajengbesi, the Principal Partner at the Law Corridor, alongside Ifeoluwa Pelumi and Abiodun Sonaike, who are partners at Lithos Legal Consult in Osogbo, took up Halima’s case and worked on it together.
“We put all the picture and video evidence to show what was done and explain all that happened, and ask for the proper release we should ask for, which included the monetary damages,” Sonaike, the Chairman of Young Lawyers Forum, Osogbo Bar, who filed the matter at the Federal High Court, Osogbo, told FIJ.
He explained that after going to court close to four times, the Nigeria Police suddenly showed up and denied that Halima was assaulted by the Police. The Police further stated in a counter affidavit, according to Sonaike, that even if it did happen, it was not by the Police because anyone could take a Police uniform to do anything they wanted. The Police also went ahead to claim that Sonaike and his partner were relying on a social media story, which was unfounded.
Halima expressed shock at the Police for denying they ever assaulted her, despite the condemnation by the Oluwo of Iwo, and the Osun State government, which commended the Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police for “redressing the assault”.
At the orderly room trial where the two policemen were dismissed in her presence, one of the policemen, in the presence of his superiors, laughed hysterically and said: “ofutufete”. Halima said the dismissed policeman tried to water down the situation.
When confronted by his superior, Halima remebers the policeman saying, “What should I do? Should I kill myself? I’ve been dismissed; I’ve been dismissed but it’s not the end of the world. I cannot die because of the police.”
Halima was just recovering from the trauma of the incident during that time.
She however wants he two policemen to be criminally prosecuted. Part of the complaints against the Nigerian Police Force is the lack of discipline, and flouting of orders without repercussion.
The evidence presented to the court included the official Twitter handle of the Nigeria Police, which tweeted that both police officers who had assaulted Halima had been suspended.
“Two million naira was awarded as aggravated damages while N3million was awarded as general damages,” Sonaike told FIJ.
The case was filed on June 18, 2020 and first appearance was on June 26, 2020.
Sonaike had also presented the case before the Osun State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, which is tasked at reviewing cases of police brutality.
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