The wife of a Vanguard Newspaper Correspondent, Deve Bossua Salem has filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Federal Government at the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, over the alleged murder of her husband. The late journalist who covered the House of Representatives for Vanguard Newspaper went missing on October 13, 2021, and was subsequently reported dead by the Police which claimed that he was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
In the rights enforcement suit filed through a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Chief Sebastine Hon, the widow is claiming that her husband was killed. She is asking the regional court for a redress over the violation of her late husband’s right to life as enshrined in Articles 4, 5, 6 and 23(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Specifically, she wants, “An order that the Defendant should pay her the sum of 5 million US Dollars aggravated damages for the illegal detention, torture and the premeditated murder of the late Tordue Salem by officers of the Nigerian police, who allegedly acted in reprehensible and unlawful manner/ for willful negligence on the part of the police, who refused, failed or neglected to intervene swiftly to save the life of the deceased.
“Interest at the rate of 25 percent per annum on any sum/all sums of money awarded by the Court as monetary judgment, calculated from the date of judgment till the judgment sum is fully liquidated”. The Plaintiff equally wants a declaration that FG, through its police officers, acted in breach of the provisions of the African Charter, when it, “arrested, detained and tortured her husband to death and thereafter, falsely claimed, with the active support/conspiracy of the staff/employees of Wuse General Hospital, Abuja (a Government-owned Hospital), that the deceased was/had been knocked down by a motor vehicle driven by a hit-and-run driver, Mr. Clement Itoro”.
“A declaration that the Defendant’s police officers were willfully negligent, in that they failed to proactively take steps to secure the life of Tordue Salem (deceased), when one Mr. Clement Itoro reported to them at a police check point which was not far from the scene of a motor accident, about hitting the deceased with his car, which resulted in his death, which death could possibly have been averted had the police acted with official dispatch and or acted swiftly”.
More so, the Plaintiff, in the court processes before the court, averred: “Even though the Department of State Security Services acknowledged receipt of a petition written to them concerning the disappearance of Late Tordue Salem, it never formally communicated with the family of the deceased. “Rather, one of its operatives, Mamman Nasir, provided his GSM number to the family of the deceased, to be reached at any time; but on each occasion he was called, he would say this was a possible kidnap case; hence the family should exercise some patience”.
She told the court that a Chief Superintendent of Police, Bimbo Oyewole, from FCT Command, who led a team of investigators to unravel the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of late Tordue, had on November 5, 2021, called the family to his office, where they were informed that the police were still checking some mortuaries in the FCT Abuja to see if they could find the corpse of the deceased.