Court orders police to pay suspect N1m over detention

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja on Tuesday ordered the police in Kifi to pay N1million in damages to a suspect for breach of his Fundamental Rights.

Justice Sunday Bassay-Onu the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by Daniel Atabor, through his counsel, Mr O.E. Amoke.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports in Lokoja that Atabor was arrested on Sept 25 by the Police A Division, Lokoja, Kogi, over alleged purchase of a stolen Motorcycle from one other person but kept in Kabba Custodian centre without bail or being charged.

Justice Bassay-Onu described the continuous detention of Otabor as a “breach of his fundamental rights” having flaunted Section IV of the Police Act, which stipulates that a suspect shouldn’t be detained beyond a day or two days from the time of his/her arrest.

“For keeping the applicant beyond the stipulated time frame within the Police Act amounts to a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

“Consequently, One Million Naira is hereby awarded as damages to the applicant by this honourable Court against the respondents (Police) haven breached his rights and liberty.

“The respondent (Police) is also hereby ordered to release the applicant (Atabor) on bail and charge before a law Court and publicly apologize to him (Atabor) in a national Newspaper forthwith, ” the judge ordered.

Atabor had through his counsel prayed the Court to declare his continuous detention by the police as illegal and a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in the nation’s 1999 Constitution and African Charter of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He also demanded N50 million in damages for this arrest and detention beyond the 48 hours stipulated by the Police Act and against sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the nation’s 1999 constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

Atabor also asked for a public apology to be published in a national newspaper by the police over the breach of his fundamental rights and liberty as a citizen of Nigeria.

But the Police had, through its Counsel, S.I. Ikutowa, claimed that they (Police) were still investigating the case of a stolen property labeled against him (Atabor).and feared his release from detention would negatively affect their investigations into the matter.

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