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HUMAN RIGHTS: Court slams N100m damages on Nigeria Police

HUMAN RIGHTS: Court slams N100m damages on Nigeria Police

A Federal High Court sitting in Kano has awarded the sum of N100 million against the Nigeria Police Force, the inspector-general of police and the Kano State commissioner of police.

The damaged was in respect of wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional detention of Bitrus Sunday for five years without trial.

Justice J. E. Inyang, in a judgement delivered on the 18th day of February, 2022, in Suit number FHC/KN/CS/80/2020, said “An ORDER of this Honourable Court is hereby made awarding the sum of N100, 000, 000.00 (One hundred million naira) as general and exemplary damages in favour of the Applicant against the 2nd-4th Respondents jointly and severally.

Sunday’s lawyer, Usman Umar Fari, filed a Fundamental Rights Enforcement application in 2020, where he prayed the court to grant some reliefs that included a declaration that the “arrest of the Applicant by the Respondents’ agents without reasonable suspicion of having committed any crime and his subsequent detention without trial were against the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…”

He therefore asked the court the award “the sum of N500, 000, 000.00 (Five Hundred Million Naira) as general and exemplary damages in favour of the Applicants against the 1st to 4th Respondents jointly and severally.”

The brief fact of the case as was gleaned from the affidavit in support of the Application was that the Applicant was arrested in February 2015 allegedly in connection to a theft alleged to have been committed by one Dalhatu Yakubu.

Sunday insisted that he was innocent, but was beaten up and kept with the Police for five days at the state command headquarters before he was transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad where he received further beating.

All the while, the Applicant was continuously held under a holding charge. The court explained that “A Holding Charge is a charge brought by the Police and other law enforcement officers against a Defendant before an inferior Court that lacks jurisdiction to try the offence charged pending the receipt of legal advice to recommend the Defendant’s trial in a Court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal set up to try the offence.”

The court was emphatic in declaring that holding charge is illegal in Nigeria. the judge said “Such holding charges have long been declared unconstitutional and illegal by the appellate and the Apex courts.”

The court pronounced in its judgement that “The Nigerian Police are a creation of the law, they are not above the constitution and the law and cannot act ultra vires their statutory and constitutional powers donated to them under Section 4 and 24 of the Police Act and Section 35 (1) (c) and 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered)…”


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