Late Journalist’s Widow Files $17m Suit against FG in ECOWAS Court

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Late Tordue Salem

Mrs Deve Bossua Salem, the wife of Tordue Salem, the late Vanguard newspaper’s House of Representatives’ Correspondent, has instituted a US$17 million suit against the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the death of the journalist.

The suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/32/22, dated July 7, 2022, was filed on behalf of Mrs Salem by Chief Sebastine Hon, SAN.

The suit is seeking 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 (ACHPR).

By the suit, she asked the court to order the Federal Government to pay her the sum of 2million US Dollars, being the sum the late Tordue Salem would have, if alive till exhaustion of his life expectancy as a Christian, for her maintenance and the maintenance of their little daughter, Avanna Salem.

Mrs Salem is also praying for an order that Defendant should pay her the sum of 10 million US Dollars compensatory damages for the mental and psychological anguish caused her, together with the permanent deprivation of her right to enjoy the love of her life, owing to the unlawful and unconstitutional murder of her husband, Mr. Tordue Salem.

She also sought an order that the Federal Government should pay to her the sum of 5 million US Dollars in aggravated damages for the illegal detention, torture and the premeditated murder of the late Mr Tordue Salem by officers of the Nigerian police, who acted in a most 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.

In addition, she is asking for “Interest at the rate of 25% (twenty-five per centum) 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.

Mrs. Salem equally wants a declaration that Federal Government, through its police officers, acted in breach of the provisions of the African Charter when they arrested, detained and tortured Mr. Tordue Salem 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 Tordue was/had been knocked down by a motor vehicle driven by a hit-and-run driver, Mr. Clement Itoro.

She is also seeking a declaration that Nigerian police officers were willfully negligent, in that they failed to proactively take steps to secure the life of Mr. 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.

Mrs. Salem claimed in court processes that 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. She said rather, one of its operatives, Mamman Nasir, provided his GSM number to the family to be reached at the time; but on each occasion he was called, he would say this was a possible kidnap case; hence the family should exercise some patience.

Also, she stated 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, on November 5, 2021, called the family and relatives 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 Tordue Salem.

Mrs. Salem documented her experiences in the hands of the law enforcement agencies while they were still looking for her husband until they were informed that his corpse had been discovered at a mortuary in a hospital in Abuja.

She said from facts (Facts at/concerning the Mortuary, and Autopsy Report), she strongly believes that her husband was not killed by a hit-and-run driver as claimed by the Nigerian police but was murdered by the police.

In the alternative, she maintains that her husband had died as a result of the willful negligence of the police, when they refused, failed or neglected to either apprehend Mr. Clement Itoro, the so-called hit-and-run driver or compel him to take them to the scene of the accident, with a view to making efforts to save the life of the journalist.