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Rights abuse: Court orders IGP, others to pay housewife N200m damages

A housewife, Peace Ekom Robert, has been awarded N200 million damages against the Inspector-General of Police, the Police Service Commission and three others on the…

A housewife, Peace Ekom Robert, has been awarded N200 million damages against the Inspector-General of Police, the Police Service Commission and three others on the abuse of her fundamental rights.

The Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo ordered the IGP, PSC and others to pay Robert damages over her unlawful arrest and detention.

It was gathered that in March 2023, one Ifenyinwa Anthonia Olua, requested that Robert link her up with someone in Europe that could buy euros and pay her in naira.

The sum of £55,000 amounting to N42.9m was said to have been transferred to a Spanish account, but the account holder who was surprised how the transfers came in quick sucession reported the matter to the Spanish authorities.

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The Spanish authorities placed restrictions on the account on the suspicion that the money could be illicit funds, leading the police to  arrest Robert, a mother of two, and kept her in custody without any arraignment.

Joined in the suit as respondents were the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police, Administration, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja, Mr. Babazango Ibrahim; DSP Yusuf Dauda of Anti-Homicide Section, Alagbon in Lagos, Inspector Celestina Ugbaja of Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos and Police Service Commission.

In his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Ntong Ntong, said by detaining the applicant, the police disregarded the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I have read in between lines the record file and have not seen where the Inspector General of Police and other respondents filed any process to challenge the averments of the applicant.

“The police threw caution to the wind and became law unto themselves, thereby bastardising the 1999 Constitution, disrespecting the order of the court and treating the name of God and office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with disdain.

“Respondents to return the N15m collected from the applicant to the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Abuja pending the hearing and final determination of the criminal charge against the applicant before the Federal High Court,” the court held.

The judge held that the police were not “a debt recovery agency and have no power to have extorted N15m from the applicant in a matter they have not concluded investigation nor the applicant tried and found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction”.

Reacting to the judgment, Counsel for the applicant and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Uwemedimo Nwoko, described the court as the last hope of the common man, while Counsel for the respondent, Barr. Akebong Essien, said his client did no wrong to have reported the matter to the police.

 

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