An Abuja high court has ruled that the Nigeria Police Force must compensate Adebayo Eric Edun, a graduate of Computer Science from the Federal University of Technology, Minna, with the sum of N6million for unlawfully detaining him for 39 days.
The court also ruled that the force must publicly apologize to the applicant in one national newspaper for his unlawful arrest and detention.
According to the judgment sheet obtained by Daily Trust, Edun who was supposed to go for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps, in Batch A, Stream 1, scheduled to be mobilized around May 2017, was arrested by the police and detained for 39 days without being charged with any offence.
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As a result of his arrest and detention, Edun reportedly missed the opportunity to be mobilized for the youth scheme.
In his judgment, Justice S. C. Oriji directed the police to arraign the applicant, Edun, before a court of law if they have any case against him and ordered that Edun be released on bail upon fulfilment of the bail conditions.
Read the details of the judgment below:
In the high court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
Holden at Abuja
On Tuesday, 5th Day of December 2017
Before Hon. Justice Sylvanus C. Oriji
SUIT NO. FCT/HC/CV/1501/2017
Mr Adebayo Eric Edun--- Applicant
1. Nigeria Police Force
2. Inspector General of Police, respondents
3. Commissioner of Police, F.C.T. Judgment
In his Originating Motion filed on 24/4/2017, the applicant seeks the following reliefs against the respondents:
1. A declaration that the continuous arrest, detention and torture of the Applicant from 10/04/2017 till date by officers of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents at Dutse Alhaji Police Station and State Anti-Robbery Squad [S.A.R.S.] is wrongful, illegal, oppressive, unconstitutional, null and void.
2. An order releasing the applicant on bail.
3. An injunction restraining the officers of the respondents from further unlawfully arresting, detaining and torturing the applicant.
4. The sum of N50,000,000.00 [Fifty Million Naira] jointly and severally against the respondents for the continuous arrest, detention and torture of the applicant from 10/04/2017 till date by officers of the respondents at Dutse Alhaji Police Station and State Anti-Robbery Squad [S.A.R.S.].
5. The sum of 15,000,000.00 [Fifteen Million Naira] as exemplary and nominal damages jointly and severally against the respondents for the unlawful arrest, detention and torture of the applicant.
6. An order compelling the respondents to publicly apologize to the applicant in 5 [five] national dailies for the unlawful arrest, detention and torture of the applicant.
7. 10% interest on judgment sum from the date of judgment until final liquidation of the judgment sum.
8. And such orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this case.
In his affidavit, Mr Edun Marcelline Akande stated that on 11/4/2017 at about 4:30 p.m., he was informed of the following facts by the applicant on handcuff in company of officers of the respondents from Dutse Alhaji Police Station when they came to search his house [i.e. No. 142 Bakori Road, PW, Kubwa, Abuja], which he verily believed to be true thus:
1. He was called on the telephone by someone who identified himself as a staff of Kas Guest House situated at Dutse Alhaji Abuja at around 9:30 p.m. on 10/4/2017 to come for a meeting on a business of DSTV Satellite installation.
2. He had been repairing satellite dish for the said Kas Guest House for more than a year and he saw no harm in the call.
3. The said caller subsequently told him he was waiting in a taxi very close to Kas Guest House. He met his caller, popularly called Yellow, at Kas Guest House.
4. He, in a company of Yellow, the taxi driver and one unknown person entered the premises of Kas Guest House around 10 p.m. on 10/4/2017. When he entered the gate of Kas Guest House and stepped out from the car, he saw Yellow putting on a mask and he subsequently challenged him to the hearing of the chief security officer of Kas Guest House, who immediately alerted the Police.
5. Yellow jumped the fence and ran away leaving him, the other unknown person and the taxi driver with the hotel security personnel; who later handed them over to the officers of respondents at Dutse Alhaji Police Station.
6. He [applicant] is a graduate of Computer Science (Federal University of Technology, Minna) waiting for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps, in Batch A, Stream 1, going for National Youth Service Corps Scheme around May 2017. The expired school identity card and certificate of graduation of the applicant from the Federal University of Technology, Minna are Exhibits A and B respectively.
7. As a result of his arrest and detention, he has not been able to do the online registration for National Youth Service Corps, which requires his fingerprint impression. The NYSC online registration which started on 20/4/2017 will end on 15/5/2017.
8. He has not been charged with any offence by officers of respondents from 10/4/2017 up till date [i.e. date of filing the suit].
Section 35 thereof provides that a person arrested and detained in accordance with section 35[c] shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time.
On 10/5/2017, the Court heard the motion ex parte and made these orders:
1. The respondents are directed to arraign the applicant before a court of law on or before 17/5/2017 if they have any case against him.
2. In default, the respondents shall release the applicant on bail upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
a) The applicant shall enter into a recognizance for the sum of N1,000,000.00 with one surety in like sum; and
b) The surety shall ordinarily be resident within the FCT, Abuja.
7 From the above, there is no doubt that the applicant was still in the custody of the respondents as at 10/5/2017. As I said before, Sonia Gbev Esq. did inform the Court that applicant was released on 19/5/2017. This means that applicant was detained by the respondents for a period of 39 days before he was released.
The respondents have not discharged the burden to prove that the applicant’s arrest and detention were justified.
Therefore, I hold that the arrest and detention of the applicant for a period of 39 days violated the applicant’s right to personal liberty guaranteed by section 35 of the 1999 Constitution [as amended].
Applicant’s relief 4 is for N50 million damages; and in relief 5, he claims N15 million as “exemplary and nominal damages”.
Both sums are for breach or violation of his fundamental rights. Section 35 of 1999 Constitution [as amended] provides: “Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person”. By virtue of this provision, I hold that the applicant is entitled to compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention by the respondents. In the circumstance, I award the sum of N6,000,000.00 to the applicant against the respondents as 9 compensations [or general damages] for his unlawful arrest and detention from 10/4/2017 to 19/5/2017.
In relief 6, the applicant prays for an order for the respondents to publicly apologise to him in five national dailies for his unlawful arrest, detention and torture. I hold that by virtue of section 35 of the 1999 Constitution [as amended], the applicant is entitled to this relief.
Finally, in relief 7, the applicant claims post-judgment interest of 10% per annum on the judgment sum. By virtue of Order 39 rule 7 of the Rules of this Court, 2004, the Court has the discretion to grant post-judgment interest on any judgment sum. I hereby grant post-judgment interest on the sum of N6,000,000.00 at the rate of 10% per annum from today.
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9. A declaration that the arrest and detention of the applicant by the respondents from 10/4/2017 till 24/4/2017 [when he instituted this action] and till 19/5/2017 [when he was released] violated his fundamental right to personal liberty and were therefore wrongful, unconstitutional and oppressive.
10. An order of injunction restraining the respondents, their officers and agents from further arresting and detaining the applicant in respect
10 of any matter connected with, or pertaining to, his arrest and detention on 10/4/2017.
3. The sum of N6,000,000.00 compensation [or general damages] for applicant’s unlawful arrest and detention for 39 days; from 10/4/2017 to 19/5/2017.
4. An order for the respondents to publicly apologize to the applicant in one  national newspaper for his unlawful arrest and detention.
5. 10% interest on the judgment sum of N6,000,000.00 from today [5/12/2017] until the judgment sum is paid.
6. Cost of N30,000.00.
HON. JUSTICE S. C. ORIJI
Legit.ng previously reported that journalists attending a media convention in Imo accused some policemen attached to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of collecting N10,000 bribe from them.
The officers, led by a certain Inspector Uche, harassed the journalists, who are members of the Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, and threatened to frame them if they refused to part with the money.
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