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Court orders police to pay Prof Zainab Abiola, arrested for assaulting ordely, N50m damages over rights abuse

Court orders police to pay Prof Zainab Abiola, arrested for assaulting ordely, N50m damages over rights abuse

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Gudu, Abuja, has ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to pay N50 million damages to Professor Zainab Duke Abiola, wife of late Chief MKO Abiola, following the violation of her fundamental human rights.

Zainab Abiola had filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2431/2023 against the IGP and named the Nigeria Police Force, Inspector Teju Moses and Engineer Ibrahim (son of former IGP Usman Alkali Baba) as co-defendants to the suit.

Zainab Abiola also demanded for N500million damages from the defendants for the infringement on her rights.

Mrs Abiola had alleged amongst others that she was arrested in her nightgown, tortured and detained by officers and men of the IGP.

She added that her detention between September 20 and September 23, 2022 without charging her to court was a violation of her rights, saying that the action of the defendants was unlawful and unconstitutional.

But the police and other defendants later opposed the fundamental rights enforcement suit and joined issues with Mrs Abiola.

The defendants further claimed that they did not know Mrs Abiola while the plaintiff produced evidence before the court that she was appointed by the police as the Chief Legal Consultant (CLC).

Delivering her judgment after listening to the parties, Justice Modupe Osho-Adebiyi held that the detention of Mrs Abiola by the defendants without arraigning her in court of competent jurisdiction was a gross violation of her right to personal liberty.

The judge further directed the IGP and other three defendants to tender a public apology to Mrs Abiola in two of the national newspapers in pursuance of Section 35 (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

In the certified true copy of Enrolled Order of the judgment dated November 29, 2023, with the official stamp on December 19, 2023 and made available on Thursday, Justice Osho-Adebiyi said, “Upon the Judgment delivered by this Honourable Court on 29th day of November, 2023, it is hereby ordered as follows:

“1. It is hereby declared that the detention of the Applicant from the 20th day of September, 2022 to 23rd September, 2022, without arraigning her before a court of competent jurisdiction is a violation of the Applicant’s right to personal liberty under section 35 of the constitution and is therefore unlawful and unconstitutional.

“2. It is further declared that the arrest of the Applicant by the Defendants in her nightgown without giving her the opportunity to dress decently is an Infringement of her right to personal dignity it is more debasing and a further Infringement of her right to personal dignity when Applicant was paraded in her nightgown. In the circumstances, the sum of N50, 000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) only is awarded to the Applicant as compensation against the 1, 2, and 4 Respondents jointly.

“3. The Respondents are hereby ordered to tender a public – apology to the applicant in two National Daily Newspapers in pursuance of the provisions of section 35 (6) I of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

Alleged assault 

Abiola was arrested in September 2022 in Abuja for allegedly ordering the assault of her female police orderly.

It was alleged then that Abiola of Area 11 in Abuja ordered her domestic staff comprising the house maid, one Rebecca Enechido and a male suspect at large, to beat up her orderly.

A Twitter user, @DejiAdesogan, who shared a photo of the policewoman with a bloodied face, alleged: “DISTURBING NEWS: Reports of one Prof Dike Zainab of Area 11 in Abuja who allegedly assaulted her Police Orderly & also ordered her maids to beat her up. Thorough investigation & prosecution of the culprits will serve as deterrent to others. Totally inhumane & unacceptable!!!”.

Reacting to the development, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba on Thursday directed an express prosecution of the arrested suspects who are in Police custody.

Preliminary investigation, IGP said, showed an overwhelming evidence of culpability on the part of the Professor and her domestic staff.

He also tasked the investigative team to ensure the fleeing suspect is arrested and made to face the wrath of the law.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi explained: “The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has strongly condemned the grievous assault of a female Police Officer, Inspector Teju Moses, by her principal who is a Legal practitioner and human rights activist, Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola and her domestic staff comprising the house maid, one Rebecca Enechido and a male suspect currently at large.

“Zainab Duke, an Mbaise born activist, grievously assaulted her orderly in company of some accomplices on Tuesday 20th September, 2022 at her residence in Garki, Abuja, due to the refusal of the orderly to breach professional ethics by carrying out menial and domestic chores at her house”.

Adejobi clarified that the suspect, Prof. Zainab, who name-drops the IGP, his family members, and other officers in the top hierarchy of the Force has no acquaintance with the Police in any form as erroneously peddled on social media.

Adejobi said the IGP has ordered the withdrawal of all Police personnel attached to the Professor.

Rights abuse, Nigeria Police, Prof Zainab Abiola, Assault on orderly

Rights abuse, Nigeria Police, Prof Zainab Abiola, Assault on orderly
A January 27, 2023 press relaese frm the Nigeria Police

He said the police boss expressed consternation at the fact that an individual who claims to be an advocate for human rights could: “stoop so low to violate the rights of another individual, a police officer tasked with ensuring her protection”.

The police January 25, 2023 press release titled Grievous Assault on Woman Police: Prof. Zainab has Case to Answer, read:

The Nigeria Police Force wishes to state emphatically that Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola who was alleged of complicity in the grievous assault of a female Police Officer, Inspector Teju Moses on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at her residence in Garki, Abuja, along with her domestic staff including the housemaid, one Rebecca Enechido, and a male suspect currently at large, has a case to answer with respect to the allegations. .

The FCT Police Command under which jurisdiction the matter transpired, has charged the suspects to court upon diligent investigation, and the case with charge no. CR/544/22 is ongoing and the next hearing will come up on 1st February 2023 at High Court 16, Zuba, FCT Abuja.

The suspects have been charged with the offences of criminal conspiracy, attempt to commit culpable homicide, voluntarily causing hurt without provocation, and assault to deter public servant from discharge of his duty amongst others. The recent media row by the suspect is therefore unnecessary as the matter has not been concluded in court. It is similarly pertinent to note that the spurious allegations recently made in the news hold no water.

The Nigeria Police reposes confidence in the judiciary believing that the Courts will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that justice is done in the extant case. The Police equally appreciate Nigerians and concerned individuals, groups, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), who have shown interest in the matter and severally called for justice for the grievously injured Police Inspector.

CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, mnipr, mipra.

FORCE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER

FORCE HEADQUARTERS,

ABUJA

 

 

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Court orders police to pay Prof Zainab Abiola, arrested for assaulting ordely, N50m damages over rights abuse

Court orders police to pay Prof Zainab Abiola, arrested for assaulting ordely, N50m damages over rights abuse

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