Court slams N1.6m against Police as damage for right violation in Delta

By Ovasa Ogaga,

Delta State High Court has awarded the sum of N1.6m against the Nigeria Police Force as damages over unlawful arrest and detention of 8 former security staff of the defunct Delta Steel Company Limited.

The Court in his judgement also mandated the police authority to publicly tender an unreserved apology for their illegal arrest and detention by the police, in at least two national papers.

Recall that Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged, (Centrep) led by its Executive Director, Oghenejabor Ikimi, esq., lead counsel to the suspects, had on September 2016 taken up the case of 8 former security staffs of the defunct Delta Steel Company Limited who occupy a one-room apartment each at the E.G.C Yard along Kano Road, DSC Steel Town Community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.

The staffs who were forcefully evicted from their home, arrested and detained in a police cell at the Nigerian Police Station, Ovwian while honouring a police invitation from 15th -19th, September, at the instance of one Chief Dan Odiete.

They were later arraigned before the Udu Chief Magistrate Court, Otor-Udu on a holden charge and were remanded at the then Federal Prisons, (now Nigerian Correction Services) Okere-Warri, Delta State as awaiting trial inmates.

However, the Director of Public Prosecution in the State found that there was no prime facie case made against them by the Police and her instigator, Chief Dan Odiete, therefore they were free on December 6th, 2016.

Upon their release from prison custody, they commenced a fundamental rights suit against the Respondents in Suit No: OUHC/70/2019 Mr Amos Isemenbita & 7 ors Vs. Inspector general of police & 3 ors; urging the court to declare their arrest and detention as illegal and also award cost against the police as damages.

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After several months of legal fireworks, the court presided over by Honourable Justice Roli Daibo Harriman of the Delta State High Court No. 2, Otor-Udu in delivering her judgment in open court on Thursday the 30th day of April 2020, said:

“The question is, did the 4th Respondent (Chief Dan Odiete) have any probable cause to make such a report to the police? I have found above that there was no basis for the report.

“Consequently, the applicants are entitled to judgment. Judgment is entered in favour of the applicants against the respondents jointly and severally as follows:

“The arrest, detention and the inhuman treatment meted out on the applicants by the 1st to the 3rd Respondents at the Nigerian Police Station, Ovwian from the 15th day of September 2016 till the 19th day of September 2016 at the instance of the 4th Respondent and his employees in a bid to recover each of the one (1) room apartment occupied by the said applicants at E.G.C Yard along Kano Road, DSC Steel Town Community, Udu Local Government Area of Delta State through self-help is a wrongful and an unconstitutional act and a violation of the applicants’ fundamental rights under Sections 34(1), 35(1) and 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“The respondents are to render an unreserved apology to the applicant in two National dailies i.e the Vanguard Newspaper and the Nation Newspaper within 15 days from today.”

 

 

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