Alleged Murder: Wife of Slain Journalist, Salem, slams $17m suit against FG
seeks intervention of ECOWAS Court
he wife of a late journalist, Mrs Deve Bossua Salem, has dragged the Federal Government to the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, over circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.
The late Tordue Salem, was prior to his death, covering the House of Representatives for Vanguard Newspaper.
He 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.
Police said it traced his corpse to a morgue at Wuse General Hospital, Abuja, where it said the deceased was taken to after the accident.
However, his wife, in the rights enforcement suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/32/22, which she filed through a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Chief Sebastine Hon, maintained that her husband was killed.
She is praying 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.
By the suit, the widow, wants an order for the Federal Government to pay her a sum of 2million US Dollars, being the sum the late Salem would have, if alive till exhaustion of his life expectancy as a Christian, given to the plaintiff for her maintenance and the upkeep of their little daughter, Avanna Salem.
Mrs Salem is equally praying the court to order the Defendant to pay her $10million as 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 what she termed as “the unlawful and unconstitutional murder” of her husband.
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.
“One week to a press briefing organised by the Police, CSP Oyewole informed the family of the deceased that following a lead, the police had arrested one Clement Itoro, who had killed the late Henry Tordue Salem in a motor car hit-and-run manner.
She told the court that on November 11, 2021, the police Intelligence Response Team, Abuja, called the family and informed them through their Commander that the police had confirmed the hit-and-run incident to have happened on October 13, 2021, which led to Tordue Salem’s death.
The Plaintiff maintained that there were “inescapable facts” relating to both the said police investigation and circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.
“The plaintiff, from facts (Facts at/concerning the Mortuary, and Autopsy Report), 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, the Plaintiff maintains that her husband had died as a result of the wilful negligence of the said police, when they refused, failed or neglected to either apprehend Clement Itoro, the alleged 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 deceased”, the court papers further read.
Counsel to the Plaintiff, Chief Hon, SAN, said he would among other things, rely on several documentary and oral evidence, to establish the case of his client.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.