On April 18, 2020, during the lengthy lockdown in Nigeria, a video of a woman, identified as Halima Adetola being beaten with whips and a baton by two members of the Nigerian police force, Inspector Taiwo Ikuesan and Police Constable Ibrahim Abbas, went viral.
The story has it that Halima went to the pharmacy to buy drugs for her daughter who had an infection with her ear when she was stopped by a policeman while she was still waiting for an okada to take her home. In an attempt 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 continued trying to make them listen to what she had to say. When the flogging persisted, she told them “you can’t be bartering me like this; I’m a woman”.
Halima Adetola's new profile picture on Twitter
All her plea fell on deaf ears as both Sergeant Ikuesan and Abbas continued to use their batons and whips on all parts of her body.
Luckily for Halima, someone very nearby took the initiative to record everything that transpired on their phone. The policemen didn't stop the battering until one of their superiors came. The beatings she received left her with internal injury and scars that she still carries till today. She was shown the video of her assault during her time at the hospital receiving treatment.
And now, almost a year later, after she had moved to press charges and attended the orderly room trial of the two policemen, the policemen have been dismissed, and Justice Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court, who made the ruling in Osogbo awarded Halima N5million in damages.
Halima also took to her very active twitter page to announce the compensation.
Pelumi Olajengbesi, the Principal Partner at the Law Corridor, as well as Ifeoluwa Pelumi and Abiodun Sonaike, partners at Lithos Legal Consult in Osogbo, all took the case of Halima and decided to work 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 disclosed that after going to court close to four times, the Nigeria Police suddenly attempted to turn the tables to deny that Halima was assaulted by the Police. The Police then further made a wild claim in a counter affidavit, according to Sonaike, that even if the assault actually did happen, it was not by the Police since anyone could take a Police uniform to do anything they wanted.
The Police also further claimed that Sonaike and his partner were only relying on a mere social media story, which was unfounded.
Abiodun Sonaike worked tirelessly in the case, he congratulated Halima on twitter too
Halima expressed how shocked she was at the Police for their attempts in 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.
Halima, beyond the monetary reward, also wants the 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.
Explaining how the #5 million was awarded, “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 the first appearance was made 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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