Across Nigeria, extrajudicial,summary, and killings arbitrary (ejes) have been rampant and chronic; however many relatives of victims of these killings often can’t fight for truth, accountability and justice because security and law enforcement officials involved in the killings effectively but disingenuously rationalize the deaths as the responsibility or fault of the victim(s). Proper, thorough or credible investigations into allegations of ejes had always been a fatal drawback to any struggle to establish the truth of such killings and still is in many States of Nigeria.
Working with the Lagos State government, A2Justice fought to see that the Coroner’s law of Lagos State, which had been dormant over decades, was reformed and revitalized. In 2007, the Lagos State House of Assembly re-enacted the old Coroner’s law as the Coroner System Law of Lagos State. This law makes it a duty for Magistrates (who are designed as Coroners) to hold an inquest, (that is, a judicial inquiry into the circumstances that lead to deaths in a variety of specific situations) to establish the true facts surrounding those deaths. In doing so, the Coroners will also be able to identify persons who may have contributed to the deaths. Reforms made to the Coroner’s law created opportunities for public access to coroner courts as well as reports of police investigations; the law de-monopolizes police control of records of investigation, and expands public opportunities of participation in the discovery of truthful information.
The new Coroner’s System Law will strengthen accountability for unlawful killings, reduce the incidence of extralegal killings and confront a vaulting culture of violence and impunity within law enforcement groups, that was being facilitated by the ease with which perpetrators of extrajudicial killings could, and were often manipulating and distorting internal (police) investigations into complaints of unlawful killings, and insulating themselves from accountability and justice.
Coroner’s Verdict Queries Police Account for SAMSON ADEKOYA’s Death in Custody; Orders Further Investigation But Police Wont Oblige
Samson Adekoya, herbal medicine practitioner died while in police Custody at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Unit, State Police Headquarters, GRA, Lagos on the 11th of February 2008. On behalf of his family, A2Justice initiated inquest proceedings before the Ikeja Coroner’s court to clarify how he died. The Coroner heard witnesses and reviewed documents and came to the verdict that Samson Adekoya died whilst in police custody, and was mass buried at Ikorodu Cemetery. The District Coroner also recommended that one Corporal Yakubu Adeniyi and Inspector John Sawyer be interrogated and made to answer as to the circumstance which led to the death of the deceased person.
Despite the Coroner’s verdict, and in spite of written representations to the police by the family of the deceased, no further action was taken by the Police on the death.
Coroner’s Verdict Indicts the Police Over the Death of Rotimi Alabi Phillips and 2 of his friends at Alakomeji
The killing of Rotimi Phillips, a 27 year old Mechanic, and two of his friends – Friday Uti-Oja, a 35 year-old Auto-Mechanic, and Ibrahim Olojede, a 28 year old Commercial Bike Operator on the 1st of October, 2009 by police officers was reported by A2Justice to the Yaba District Coroner.
On the 1st of October, 2009 at about 10pm, the deceased persons in the company of other friends sat together in front of their house at 21, Olonode Street, Alagomeji, Yaba, engrossed in friendly discussions when a police van pulled besides them and the police officers started shooting sporadically.
Ibrahim Olojede died on the spot from gunshots sustained from the police shootings, while Rotimi Alabi and Friday Uti who equally sustained gun short wounds were taken away by the police and left untreated at their station at Adeukunle area of Yaba in Lagos State. Mr Alabi died the following day while Mr. Uti died about 2 weeks letter at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital Ikeja as a result of the gunshot wounds he sustained from the incident.
The Yaba District Coroner commenced investigation into the circumstances of the killings of these three and at the close of the Inquest proceedings, the Coroner came up with the verdict that there were direct and uncontroverted evidences linking the police, particularly one Corporal Abu Bolaji with the killing of the deceased persons. The Coroner also stated that the post-mortem report revealed that the deceased persons suffered multiple injuries due to the gunshot wounds. Attorney-General of Lagos State was directed to prosecute the police officer, Corporal Bolaji who was directly indicted
Access to Justice on behalf of RotimiAlabi Phillips & 2 Ors v. The Nigerian Police
FATAL MOTOR ACCIDENT ALONG LAGOS-IBADAN EXPRESSWAY
On the 18th of August, 2010 A2Justice requested the Ikeja District Coroner to initiate inquest proceedings into the ghastly motor accident which claimed about 50 lives at the at the Ojodu/Berger Area of Lagos State. Preliminary investigation revealed that the accident was as a result of break-failure from a fully-loaded truck who lost control on approaching rows of vehicles in a traffic hold-up as a result of a police check-point on the expressway. Inquest proceedings by the Coroner revealed that both the truck, which belonged to Dangote Sugar Refinery and the police check point on the expressway were the direct causes of the accident. The court directed Dangote Sugar Refinery and the police to compensate the victims of the accident.
Access to Justice on behalf of victims of Otedola Bridge Accident v. Dangote Sugar Refinery & The Nigerian Police
On the 12th of May, 2012 one Darlington Amaihan, a 38 year old artisan, Joy Odeyemi, a 37 year old business woman and Joseph Azubike a 37 year old business man were shot by some police officers at Monalido Night Club in Apapa area of Lagos State. It was a case of some trigger-happy police officer shooting randomly in expression of an misplaced excitement.
Joy Odeyemi and Joseph Asubike lost their lives to the shootings, while Darlington Amaihan sustained gunshot wounds on his back and knee. A2Justice reported the incident to the Apapa District Coroner and which has commenced Inquest on the killings.
Access to Justice on behalf of Joy Odeyemi& 2 Ors v. The Nigerian Police
Agbado District Coroner commenced investigation into the killing of AZEEZ OMOTOSHO.
Azeez Omotosho, a 37 year old technician while returning home in the company of his family was short death point-blank by the police on the 2nd of November 2013 at Shogunle area of Lagos State. According to his wife, who witnessed the killing, Mr Omotosho saw an armed police officer interrogating his friend along the road. He drew closer to inquire and find out what was amiss. In the process Mr. Omotosho was short repeatedly by the police who later absconded. A2Justice made a report to the Agbado District Coroner who had commenced investigation into the killing. The District Coroner has adjourned the inquest to the 18th of February, 2014.
Access to Justice on behalf of AfeezOmotosho v. The Nigerian police
The Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules are Rules made by the Chief Justice of Nigeria under powers granted by the Constitution to govern the procedure for bringing complaints of breaches of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Until the current Rules were made in 2009, the Rules made under the 1979 Constitution were the Rules used to redress breaches of constitutional rights in Nigerian courts. The 1979 Rules (which came into force on January 1, 1980) had been in operation for twenty nine years without review. But beyond that, the Rules, which were intended to simplify and quicken the procedure for remedying violations of human rights were placing serious hardships in the way of victims of human rights violations, as courts interpreted them overly legalistically and frustrated them from being vehicles of justice.
Having established the negative impact the old rules were having on citizens’ ability to enforce their rights, A2Justice considered the reform of the rules an urgent priority. Working with other stakeholders including the Nigerian Bar Association, A2Justice persisted in efforts to convince the then Chief Justice of Nigeria on the need to reform the Rules and make them more conducive to the attainment of justice. The Chief Justice of Nigeria did just that. The New Rules which were promulgated in 2009 made the attainment of justice, above technicalities, a priority for the courts: the Rules fundamentally reduced costs of filing fundamental rights applications, and simplified enforcement procedures that will result in much shorter timescales for adjudicating fundamental rights claims. The new Rules have fundamentally re-shaped the landscape of fundamental rights adjudication in Nigeria.
Current evidence suggests that the Rules are helping to facilitate the early disposition of fundamental rights cases.