By Daniel Tyokua
An FCT High Court in Maitama has ordered the Police to pay N3 million to one Kingsley Efobi, for violation of his fundamental rights to personal liberty suffered in the hands of the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Efobi, who sells bedspread in Wuse Market had sometime in 2017, filed a suit against the Nigeria Police, the Inspector-General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, for violating his fundamental rights.
According to the suit, he and two other bedspread dealers bought materials in large quantities on debt from one Madam Normal, who supplied them from Aba.
He told the court that the dealer reported him to the police in May 2015, for debts he owed her, adding that he was forced by SARS operatives to write an undertaking for the payment of the debts he owed after subjecting him to inhumane treatments.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Jude Okeke held that the seizing of Efobi’s handset, the order by operatives of SARS for Efobi to remove his sandals, sit on a bare floor, as well as his arrest and detention, were all violation of his right to dignity of his person.
Justice Okeke held that, “There is no evidence by the respondents showing that they arrested and detained the applicant upon a reasonable suspicion of having committed criminal offence. It is unconstitutional and, therefore, unlawful.
“Accordingly, an order of perpetual injunction is granted, restraining the respondents, their agents or servants from harassing the applicant on account of the subject matter of this suit.
“The respondents jointly and severally are ordered to pay to the applicant a sum of N2 million damages for breaking his right to personal liberty and N1million for violating his right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment,’’ the judge held.
Okeke also ordered that the respondents jointly and severally return to the applicant a sum of N16, 500 being the money extorted from him by the officers of the respondent and that the respondent pay the applicant N50,000 as cost of the suit.