The Court had awarded 5 million naira damages in a separate suit
Total award of 15 million naira damages for wrongful arrest
Police ordered to write letter of apology and submit to court
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] sitting at Wuse, Zone II, Abuja, has upheld the human rights violation suit filed by Tim Elombah, one of the Elombah Brothers, and slammed another ten million Naira damages against the Nigeria Police Force.
Ruling on Wednesday, the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Ajoke S. Adepoju held that the arrest and subsequent detention of Tim Elombah for 25 days is a clear violation of his fundamental human rights.
Justice Adepoju granted the prayers of the Applicant as follows:
That the arrest and detention of the applicant from 05:00am of January 1 to around 03.00pm of January 25, 2018, on the instruction of the former Inspector General of Police [IGP], Idris Kpotum, without investigation and trial is not justifiable under the Nigerian Constitution and, therefore, constitutes a grave violation of the Applicant’s rights to personal dignity and liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution.
That the arrest and detention of the applicant, and five other adult male family members, without informing him in writing the facts and grounds for his arrest and detention is a violation of his constitutional rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
That failure to allow or grant the Applicant access to legal representation before his arrest and before making statement constitutes a violation of his constitutional rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
That the forceful seizure or two laptops, two telephones and one tablet without search warrant is a breach of his fundamental rights.
That the arraignment of the applicant before an Upper Area Court at Mpape, a satellite town in Abuja, a court without jurisdiction to preside over such cases, is illegal and therefore null and void.
The judge recounted that the Applicant narrated how operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS], Anambra Command, and the Special Tactical Squad [STS], Abuja Command, in a joint operation, scaled the fence of their country home in Nnewi, Anambra State, with a ladder around 05:00 o’clock in the morning like thieves.
She also recalled that the Applicant narrated how the action of the police caused serious distress to their ageing mother as well as their wives and children as the identity of the operatives was unknown as well as the destinations of the arrestees.
She also noted that neither the SARS operatives nor the STS personnel denied any of the allegations leveled against them either orally or in written form.
The judge, therefore, ruled that the actions of the police operatives is illegal worthy of serious sanction.
She also held that the detention of the Applicant for 25 days is illegal and should be compensated in consonance with the Constitution.
Justice Adepoju, therefore, ruled as follows:
That the Respondents releases immediately the seized two laptops, two telephones and one tablet and return same to the Applicant.
That the Respondents or their agents should desist from further arrest or attempt to arrest the Applicant or any of his family members in relation to this case.
That the sum of ten million Naira be paid to the Applicant as compensation for the aforesaid psychological torture, unlawful arrest and detention.
The judge also directed former IGP Idris and police operatives to apologise in writing to the Applicant for infringement on his constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights in line with the provisions of the Constitution.
Recall that the Elombah Brothers had defeated ex-IGP Idris Kpotum in a separate suit filed at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Jabi, Abuja, in the matter of application by Daniel Elombah, Izuchukwu Elombah and Chief Obum Ohaegbu for violation of the Applicants’ rights to personal dignity and liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The case also had the Nigeria Police Force and ex-IGP Idris as respondents.
The presiding judge also awarded a damage of five million Naira against the respondents.