Widow of murdered journalist Tordue Salem sues Nigerian government for $17m

Deve Bossua, wife of murdered Nigerian journalist, Tordue Salem, sued the Nigerian government in the ECOWAS Court of Justice over the tragic death of her husband.

Salem was a journalist at avant-garde newspaper in Abuja until his disappearance on October 13, 2021.

His mutilated remains were later found at Wuse General Hospital in Abuja last November, a month after his disappearance.

Sebastine Hon, Senior Advocate for Nigeria (SAN), filed a law enforcement complaint bearing ECW/CCJ/APP/32/22, on behalf of the widow.

She blamed the Nigerian police “for the unlawful detention, torture and premeditated murder of the late Tordue Salem”.

The lawsuit seeks redress for the violation of Mrs. Salem’s deceased husband’s right to life as enshrined in Articles 4, 5, 6 and 23(1) of the African Charter on Human Rights and peoples.

“How Mr. Salem Was Killed”

In documents filed in court, the plaintiff claimed that the State Security Service (SSS) acknowledged receipt of a written request to him regarding the disappearance of Mr. Salem, he never communicated officially with the family of the deceased.

SSS officials

Further, the Complainant stated that a Chief Superintendent of Police, Bimbo Oyewole of the Abuja Police Command, who led a team of investigators to elucidate the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr. Salem, the November 5, 2021, called relatives of the family to his office, where they were informed that the police were still checking some FCT Abuja morgues on the matter.

On November 11, 2021, according to court documents, the Police Intelligence Response Team in Abuja called the family and informed them through their commanding officer that the police had confirmed that the misdemeanor incident leak had occurred on October 13, 2021, which led to the death of Mr. Salem.

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Due to complicity in the investigation into Salem’s death, the family said they observed “inevitable facts”.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Mr. Hon, said he would rely on documentary and oral evidence to argue his client’s case.

Pray

In the lawsuit, Ms Salem wants the ECOWAS tribunal to compel the Nigerian government to pay her US$2 million, the amount the slain journalist would have, if he were alive until his hope was exhausted of life.

ECOWAS Court of Justice
ECOWAS Court of Justice

She wants the money paid for her upkeep and that of their baby girl, Avanna Salem.

Ms. Salem also seeks an order requiring the defendant to pay her $10 million in compensatory damages for the mental and psychological anguish she suffered, as well as the permanent deprivation of her right to enjoy the love of his life, due to the unconstitutional murder of Mr. Salem.

She also sought an order directing the Nigerian government to pay her US$5 million in aggravated damages “for the unlawful detention, torture and premeditated murder of the late Tordue Salem by officers of the Nigerian Police”.

Wuse General Hospital, Abuja, where Mr Salem's body was found by police on Thursday.
Wuse General Hospital, Abuja, where Mr Salem’s body was found by police on Thursday.

The Applicant also urged the court to declare that the Nigerian Police, acted in violation of the provisions of the African Charter when they allegedly arrested, detained and tortured to death Tordue Salem and subsequently falsely claimed, with the connivance of the authorities of the Wuse General Hospital, Abuja that the deceased was hit by a motor vehicle driven by a fleeing driver, Mr. Clement Itoro.

No date has yet been set for the hearing of the case.

Background

There are a plethora of questions about the death of the Vanguard newspaper reporter that still demand answers.

In November last year, immediately after the news of Mr. Salem’s death, PREMIUM TIMES visited Godab Estate in Abuja where the deceased journalist lived.

Elizabeth Kuraun, the late journalist’s older sister, was overwhelmed with grief and disbelief at her brother’s tragic end.

The journalist’s disappearance and death sparked outrage from the Union of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ), the Abuja branch and the government of Benue State, Mr Salem’s home state. .

NUJ Abuja President Emmanuel Ogbeche led protests to pressure police and federal authorities for Mr Salem’s release before he was pronounced dead weeks after the protests.

The unanswered questions

This newspaper reported how journalists, who witnessed the parade of Mr Itoro, the alleged fugitive driver at the police headquarters in Abuja, found holes in the police spokesman’s explanation of the circumstances that led to the death of Mr. Salem.

Channels Television had reported that journalists had asked why the management of Wuse General Hospital (where Mr Salem’s body was found) had not reported the incident for a long time since documents belonging to the deceased journalist were on file. him.

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abuja Chapter, had led a protest march towards the police force headquarters in Abuja, asking where the journalist was.

National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH)
National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH)

Similarly, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Assembly, which the deceased covered as a journalist until his disappearance, have raised public outcry over his situation.

In addition, journalists asked whether the police would include the management of Wuse Hospital in the prosecution.

The identity of the person who deposited the corpse of the deceased journalist remains unknown.

Police said they would address issues of negligence on the part of hospital management while ensuring officers at the Wuse checkpoint on the night of the accident would be held accountable after all the facts of the incident. case would have been collected.

But until this moment, there has been no public explanation from the authorities to unravel the sordid circumstances of Mr Salem’s death.

He has since been buried at his birthplace in Benue State in north-central Nigeria.


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