Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo presided by Justice Ntong Ntong has ordered the Inspector General of Police and five others to pay a housewife in Uyo, Peace Ekom Robert, the sum of N200m as damages for her unlawful arrest and illegal detention.
Delivering judgment in Uyo on Tuesday the presiding judge, ordered that in a case of enforcement of fundamental rights brought by the applicant instituted in March this year against one Ifenyinwa Anthonia Olua who
approached the applicant Peace Ekom Robert to link her up with someone in Europe who could buy euros £55,000 amounting to N42.9m and pay her in naira but the applicant was arrested by the police suspecting that the money could be illicit funds.
The Judge stated that the funds were transferred to a Spanish account but the account holder reported to the Spanish authorities, who frozen the account and queried the source of such money while the plaintiff was arrested here in Nigeria by the police.
But the applicant quickly enforced her fundamental human right and joined 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 the suit.
In a one-hour judgment, Justice Ntong Ntong said he had “read in between lines the record file and has not seen where the Inspector General of Police and other respondents filed any process to challenge the averments of the applicant.”
Justice Ntong said the evidence before the Court showed that “the Police threw caution to the wind and became law unto themselves thereby bastardizing 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.”
The Court also ordered the Inspector General of Police and other “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 that the Police were not “a debt recovery agency and has 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.”
In his remarks, counsel to the applicant and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Uwemedimo Nwoko described the Court as the last hope of the common man.