Socialist Workers League (SWL) welcomes the 21 June 2023 judgement delivered by Justice Mohamed Abubakar of the FCT High Court, ordering the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to pay the sum of N50m to the family of Alex Ogbu. And we demand that the NPF does this immediately and with an unreserved apology to Alex Ogbu’s family.
Comrade Alex, who was a trade unionist and journalist was killed by the police on 21 January 2020 while covering a demonstration of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), who were protesting the continued detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The police’s immediate response was to deny any culpability in the death. They claimed that Alex died from hitting his head on a sharp metal object while scampering for safety as they dispersed the protesting Shi’ites of the IMN.
At the insistence of Francesca Ugbu that an independent autopsy was conducted. This showed the entry and exit point of a projectile consistent with a bullet wound and confirmed that he died from bleeding out from the wound.
Francesca, Alex’s wife has borne the burden and pain of this particularly tragic ending of Alex’s life, and having to raise their daughter, Ehi, who was barely 2-year-old daughter at the time of Alex’s death, alone.
With legal support from the Falana Chambers and political support from the Justice for Alex Ogbu Campaign which drew members from several organisations together, reflecting Alex’s non-sectarian politics whilst alive, Francesca has pursued the case relentlessly against all odds.
We of the SWL seize this opportunity to salute the unwavering determination and commitment of Francesca to the struggle for justice to be done. And we demand that the NPF does the needful without delay or any further rubbing of salt on the open wound of Alex’s killing.
Alex, a full-time organiser of the SWL, who had been a leading member of the League till his death, as a member of the SWL Editorial Board did not deserve to have his life cut down at its prime. The EndSARS Rebellion nine months after Alex’s murder reinforced the anger of all well-meaning Nigerians at the impunity and brutality of the police. The court ruling is a modest victory for Alex, what he stood for, and for all people who desire and fight for a better society where police brutality would be a thing of the past. The police must pay the N50m damages now, and tender an unreserved apology to Francesca and Ehi, for the irreversible loss they have been made to suffer.
by Frances AKINJOLE (National Chairperson) and Mobolaji OTUYELU (National Secretary)
SWL statement issued on Friday 23rd June 2023