A high court sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State Capital, to the family of Mr. Ikechukwu Uwagbaokwuin who was shot by a trigger-happy police officer in Umuahia on September 10, 2015.
The presiding Judge, Justice Kenneth Okereke, also indicted five policemen and a pastor of Christ Empire International Church, Umuahia, Kings Martins, for conspiring to commit a felony to wit murder of the deceased.
The deceased, an undergraduate of the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo in Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, was reportedly shot by policemen who were in search of his elder brother on September 10, 2015.
It was learnt that Martins had invited the police to arrest the deceased’s elder brother for allegedly stealing music instruments and a generator from his church.
In a suit, number HU/43M/2017, filed by the deceased’s father, Mr. Emmanuel Uwagbaokwu, through his counsel, Mr. Jude Nwaonokoro, he prayed the court to enforce the fundamental rights to life of the deceased.
He also prayed the court to declare that the killing of the deceased was a clear violation of his right to life and order the respondents to severally or jointly pay the sum of N20m for killing the deceased.
The plaintiff also asked the court to make the respondents namely – Martins, Ikechukwu Ogbonna , ex-Sergeant Ogbonna Alieze, Sergeant Eyong Inah, Corporal Obi Chimbuike and Constable Okafor Ugochukwu, to render public apology to his family, for murdering his son and equally award any other cost the court may dim fit to them.
In his judgement, Justice Okereke, said the counsel to respondent did not convince the court why the deceased was killed, since he was not the suspect the police went in search of.
He said the police conspired with Martins and were responsible for the shooting of the deceased.
The judge stated that the deceased died an innocent man, wondering why his killers had yet to openly apologise to the family to show remorse for the murder of the deceased.
He awarded the sum of N2,200,000 to be paid to the applicant by the respondents.
He said the judgment should serve as a deterrent to policemen who think they can kill with their guns at will, adding that the respondents would be arraigned in court for murder on February 19, 2018.
Addressing journalists after the judgment, counsel to the applicant, Messrs. Jude Nwaokoro and Agbai Peter, said the judgment had laid to rest the fundamental abuse of right to life of the deceased.
They said “The Attorney-General of Abia State has filed charges against Martins, Ogbonna and four other police officers on two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and murder of the deceased.
In his reaction, the father of the deceased hailed the judgment.
He said the judgment had shown that the judiciary is really the last hope of the common man.
“The court has proved that my late son was not an armed rubber. He was innocently killed by the police on the orders of the pastor who illegally engaged them,” he said.