Court Awards N10m Damages Against LASTMA For Causing Cyclist Injury

Justice Doris Okuwobi of an Ikeja High court has awarded a N10milion damages against Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), and its official, Mr Adelebe Sunday for causing bodily injury to a student, Samson Dibie sometimes in 2011.

Dibie, who was attacked at Abule Egba with stick by the LASTMA official on December 1, 2011, while attempting to escape arrest with his motorcycle had dragged the official, LASTMA and the state Ministry of Transport to court through his lawyer, Mrs Funmi Falana, asking for a N200 million general damages for his injury and the infringement of his fundamental human rights.

He also prayed the court to declare that the action of Sunday (LASTMA official) was unconstitutional and illegal as it violated his rights to dignity of human person.

Two years after the case was argued by Mrs Falana and the respondents defended the case through  their lawyers from the Ministry of Justice, Justice Okuwobi in her judgment held that the action of the official was unconstitutional and subsequently illegal.

She held it violated the applicant’s rights to dignity of human person as guaranteed by Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The court also declared that the assault and physical attack on the applicant by Aidelebe Sunday on that day which eventually led to the amputation of his right hand is illegal, unconstitional and a threat to his right to life as guaranteed in Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution.

She also held the act violated Article 4 of the Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

To this end, Justice Okuwobi awarded the sum of N10 million in favour of the applicant as damages for the infringement of Dibie’s fundamental rights to life and dignity of person.

Arguing the case, Mrs Falana had told the court the action of the 1st respondent in the case had almost resulted to the death of applicant while he was hospital, the incident, she argued eventually led to the amputation of his right hand, in a bid to save his life.

She argued that on December 1, 2011 at about 8:45 am on his way to school while on his motorbike at Oja Oba, Abule Egba bus stop, the applicant noticed some LASTMA officers arresting motorcyclists, but he stopped at the Total Filling station near the bus stop.

However, he said while he was trying to escape from the filling station, an official of LASTMA named Aidelebe S. in uniform rushed at him and hit him with a stick on his right arm.

He submitted he managed to escape from the scene, but latter observed the arm swell up, while he was also unconscious and dizzy.

Dibie told the court that he latter discovered after medical examination that the bone in his right arm has been fractured, but he was advised to amputate the arm to survive.

He therefore prayed the court to grant his prayers.

In its defence the state government denied the incident, insisting that on the said date, none of its official participated in arrest of Okada rider as alleged by the applicant.

In a counter affidavit deposed to by Aidelebe Sunday himself said “there was no fracas between the 2nd Respondent officers including me and the motor bike riders on that particular day.”

The state government denied there exist no Petrol Filling station known as Total Filling station at Oja Oba as claimed by the applicant and that the agency never operated with buses, except its Toyota Hilux pick up.

It claimed that the applicant instituted the case in bad faith.

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