A Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna has awarded the sum of N2 million against the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, as damages for the unlawful arrest and detention of three persons for 19 months.
The trio of Idris Abubakar, Anas Abubakar and Aliyu Abubakar, had instituted the case against the Inspector General of Police, IGP, the Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State and the Divisional Police Officer, Kabala Police Station.
According to complainants, the police arrested them for alleged theft and were detained for six days, after which the police claimed that they were members of Boko Haram.
They told the court that all through their detention, the police never charged them to court, and their lawyers and relatives were denied access to them.
Delivering his judgment, the trial Judge, Emeka Nwite, having listened to arguments from Counsel to the applicants, Baba Lawal-Aliyu and that of the respondents, E C Enwelum, held that the continued detention of the applicants by the police was a violation of their fundamental human rights.
The Judge noted that the police did not provided any evidence to warrant their long detention or to back up their claim that the three were members of the Boko Haram.
He also dismissed the confessional statement tendered by the police in which the applicants confessed to being members of the terrorist sect,saying that the document was not admissible in law.
Justice Nwite also pointed out that the police, during its defence, had said that incriminating items were recovered from the applicants showing that they were Boko Haram sect members, but “not only did the applicants denied having any incriminating objects when they were arrested but the respondents did not exhibit any of the incriminating objects to buttress their claims.”
“In view of the foregoing analysis, I am of the view and so hold that in the said detention of the applicants, the police violated Section 35(5)(B) and 36 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (asamended),” he ruled.
The trial judge ordered the police to produce the applicants before the court or release them outrightly from police detention.
He also awarded N2 million as exemplary damages against the police for unlawful arrest and detention of the applicants, and another N50,000 against the respondent in favour of the applicants.
“I hereby make an order enforcing the applicants fundamental rights as guaranteed by Section 34, 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution of theFederal Republic of Nigeria as amended,” Justice Nwite added.