. When a citizen is injured by State Security Agencies in Nigeria, notably the Army, Police, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt and Crime Practices Commission (ICCPC), etc, it can be quite a challenge enjoying the fruits of Judgement against these Agencies in the event of victory at the Courts, especially if the relief is monetary.
Yes, Laws do exist to cloth the citizen with relief. The fundamental challenge is however the route or process towards enjoying the relief after the Judgement of Court.
Generally, this is how it works. After Judgement the Court prepares papers for execution of the Judgement so as to enforce compliance. Bailiffs are assigned to carry out execution i.e. seizing the properties of the Judgement debtor, who is in default of compliance, in order to give life to the Judgement. Two policemen are normally detailed to accompany the Bailiffs.
This process is the problem.
Police officers often decline to escort Court Bailiffs to Police Headquarters, Army headquarters or any other Para Military Body to execute Judgements. They plead ineffectiveness even if they do. They cannot act against their Bosses or Organizations. It therefore becomes a practical impossibility to take away, for instance, a police vehicle for non compliance with Judgement of Court.
A lot of citizens whose rights have been violated by State Security Agencies and have monetary reliefs awarded by the Court therefore do not in real terms get any relief. Monetary award or damages do hardly get paid.
For instance, Lawyers Alert was able to secure Judgment in the sum of N5m for a mother whose son was unlawfully killed by the Police. The Judgment was delivered by the Federal High Court Makurdi, in November 2011 against the Inspector General, I.G, and Commissioner of Police, C.O.P. Benue State
Both parties have not appealed the Judgment, but till date have refused to pay the compensation.
We contacted the I.G and C.O.P , had several meetings all to no avail. We could have executed the Judgement, but, for the Bailiffs cannot go into Police Headquarters and attach their properties in satisfaction of Judgement without Police officers accompanying them.
Monetary Judgements against Security Agencies are therefore practically speaking, empty judgements.
They are at best emotional vents for satisfaction to wit: that the Court deemed a citizen to have been wronged. Sometimes this assuages the injury.
Until the day Nigeria Security Chiefs believe in the rule of law and have respect for the Judiciary and sanctity of Court Orders, this will continue to be the position.
The Institution of the Judiciary needs to be strengthened, made strong and potent otherwise victory in Court against State Security Bodies will remain pyrrhic/empty victories.