An Abuja High Court on Wednesday ordered the Nigeria Police to pay N12 million to a 34-year-old man, Odu Johnson, as damages for unlawful detention and violation of his fundamental rights.
Justice Mudashiru Oniyanyi gave the order, while delivering judgment in a suit filed by Mr. Johnson, asking for N150 million from the police as damages for unlawful detention.
Mr. Johnson had dragged the Inspector-General of Police and FCT Commissioner of Police to court, claiming that he was detained for allegedly stealing 12 tyres belonging to one Suzy Micheal.
Mr. Johnson said that he worked for Ms. Micheal as a sales boy and left without receiving his one month outstanding salary.
He said that after two weeks, Ms Micheal called him to come over to collect his salary, adding that when he went he was arrested by the police and detained for 13 days.
Mr. Oniyangi said that evidence before him proved that Mr. Johnson was held in solitary confinement for 13 days, without being arraigned before any court of law.
“There is unchallenged evidence before me from which I believe the applicant was in detention for 13 days in 2007 and was subjected to untold hardship.
“I also have evidence to show that the police subjected him to degrading and inhuman treatment. He was in solitary confinement and held hostage for 13 days.
“The conduct of the police in detaining the applicant beyond one day, as it is mandated in our Constitution, unless his case is charged to court, was aggravated in nature.
“I hold the view that the action of the police was reckless, vindictive, high-handed and oppressive.
“It also depicts an abuse of official powers and gross indiscipline by our men in uniform. It is reprehensive to the extreme and showed a gross disregard for the rule of law.”
He also condemned the attitude of the police in the suit, as the police failed to file counter motion though served with court papers.
“It is on record that the Inspector-General of Police and the Commissioner of Police were served with court papers, 13 times for them to enter appearance and say their side of the story.
“But they refused to do so since the case was filed in 2008. They never deemed it fit to appear in court even once.
“This means that they are not challenging their acts.”