STRAY BULLET: Abuja High Court Awards Family of Slain Journalist N50M Compensation

Oru Leonard 

The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting at Court 58, Kurudu, has ordered the Nigeria Police Force to pay the sum of N50,000,000 (fifty million Naira) to the family of late Comrade Alex Ogbu, an Abuja-based journalist brutally murdered during a riot between the Nigerian Police Force and members of Islamic Movement, Shiite in 2020.

The court blamed the police heavily for extra Judicial killing, saying the primary job of law enforcement agents is to protect life and property.

This is contained in a press statement made available by the Publisher of RegentAfrica Times, Shola Akingboye, on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

It would be recalled on Wednesday 22nd January 2020, the media community woke up to the devastating news of the brutal death of Comrade Alexander Ameh Ogbu. The slain Nigerian journalist and activist fell to the Nigerian Police’s stray bullet during one of the Shiite movement’s struggles against the federal government at Berger Roundabout, Wuse, Abuja.

Available reports had it that the victim was allegedly hit by a police bullet on the head and died on the spot.

An eyewitness account at the time of the incident revealed that the journalist was directly fired in the head, killed and their body dragged from the spot to another direction during the sporadic rain of live bullets on members of the Shiite movement.

The body of the veteran journalist was later deposited at the morgue of the Abuja National Hospital.

The incident sparked national debate at the time. After three and a half years of legal battles and activism by various civil society organizations including senior legal practitioners across the country, demanding justice for the late journalist, today, 21st June 2023, the family and the circumstances surrounding the journalist’s death have been vindicated by the Abuja court and justice served.

Delivering judgment on the matter on Wednesday 20 June 2023, at Court 58, of the Abuja Federal High Court, sitting in Kurudu, FCT, Abuja, Justice Mohammed Abubakar, ordered the Nigeria Police Force to pay the sum of N50,000,000 (fifty million Naira) to the family of late Comrade Alex Ogbu.

The judge picked holes in the attitude of the security operatives in handling live ammunition in public. The judge particularly frowned at the nonchalant disposition of the Nigerian Police, saying the police force had nothing to defend for reasons they never appeared in court over the matter.

Abubakar lampooned the immediate past Attorney General(AG), for trying to cover the Nigerian Police Force, saying the extra-judicial killing is one too many.

Meanwhile, the legal battle for justice for Alex Ogbu suffered several setbacks and adjournment due to a lack of financial muscle by the widow of the diseased to pursue the case earlier on, yet the family of the victim though frustrated remained undaunted.

Reacting, the unemployed widow of the late journalist, Mrs. Fransisca Alex Ogbu, after the judgment on Wednesday, expressed her appreciation to the well-meaning Nigerians who joined in the battle for justice.

“I want to express my appreciation to the good people of Nigeria who stood by me in achieving today’s judgment three years after, most especially Chief Femi Falana SAN, Abubakar Marshal, and other lawyers who helped us on this case.

“We appreciate all the comrades and friends who stood by the family.

“We are determined to get justice and we call on all Nigerians of goodwill to join us in this struggle until justice is fully served.

“My appreciation also goes to the judiciary. Even though no amount of compensation can take the place of the love of my life, Alex, the judiciary has once again proved that indeed, it is the hope of the common man, now I believe.

“Today’s justice appears delayed, but it is never a justice denied; after the dark tunnel, there is always the light.”

“My candid appeal now goes to concern Nigerians, not to relent in joining me to ensure that justice is fully served with today’s judgment.

“Let those in authority adhere to the judgment without any further delay”

” I am a graduate, unemployed even before the death of my husband, and life became tough for me, especially in bringing up the little girl left behind by my late husband.

” I want the federal government to attend to the judgment for enforcement without any delay, Fransisca appealed.

Before his death, Alex Ogbu had his last shot in journalism as an Associate Editor on political matters at the Regent Africa Times. Before that period, Ogbu was the Editor of the African Herald Express, between 2009 and 2012. A trade unionist per excellence, pan-Africanist, author, and a member of the Socialist Workers & Youth League (SWL) He was the Convener of Generation for Change Africa Initiative.

“We shall keep the public abreast of all developments as we have always done.

“May his soul continue to rest in peace.” Shola said.

Leave a Reply