CrimeHuman Rights

Court Orders SARS To Pay N5m Damage To Onitsha Businessman For Unlawful Arrest, Detention And Torture

A High Court sitting in Ogidi has ordered the officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and an officer of the Nigerian Police Force to pay the sum of N5 million Naira as compensation to Ugochukwu Oraefo for extortion, illegal arrest, unlawful detention and torture.

Mr Ugochukwu Oraefo who is an Onitsha based businessman was sometime last year whisked away from his factory by men of Special Anti-robbery Squad to their office at Awkuzu, where he was unlawfully detained, subjected to excruciating torture and criminally extorted the sum of Six Million Naira (N6,000,000.00) as ransom from him.

Consequently, Mr Ugochukwu, through his lawyer, Justus Ijeoma, the Executive Director of International Human Rights and Equity Defence Foundation (I-REF) instituted a fundamental right enforcement action against the Respondents.

The Respondents in the suit marked “HID/MISC/ 129/2018 were Commissioner of Police, SP Sunday Okpe, Officer in charge of Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) Nigeria Police Force, Awkuzu, DSP, Elias, Commander of Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) Nigeria Police Force Neni, Commander of Special Anti-robbery Squad(SARS) Nigeria Police Force, Ogidi and Sgt. Osmond Tagbo, Police officer attached to SARS Neni office.

The plaintiff had prayed the court to award N100 million against the Respondents jointly and severally as compensation for the unlawful detention, torture and other breaches of the Applicant’s Fundamental Rights.

The plaintiff also prayed the court to direct the Respondents to tender a written apology which will be published in a very conspicuous page in two daily Newspapers circulating nationwide.

Justice E.S Nri-Eze in his judgement on 5th day of March, 2019 held that the Respondents failed to prove that the arrest, detention, and torture of the Applicant were unjustified in law as the Applicant had adduced credible and sufficient evidence to prove that his fundamental rights were violated most unjustifiably when he was arrested, detained and tortured by the Respondents who ended up extorting the sum of N6 million from him.

“I hold that Applicant’s fundamental rights were grossly abused and violated when the Respondents subjected him such cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture.

“It was wrong, unconscionable and I dare to say a gross abuse of office for the Respondents to subject the Applicant to such inhuman treatment merely to intimidate and extort such huge amount of money from the Applicant.

“Applicant, from the peculiar facts of this suit, is entitled to exemplary or aggravated damages against the Respondents for the cruel, outrageous and flagrant disregard and violation of the Applicant’s fundamental right to life and dignity of human person.

“The respondents are hereby restrained from further harassing the Applicant.

“The Respondents are hereby ordered to tender a written apology to the Applicant, either collectively or individually published in a very conspicuous page in two daily Newspapers circulating nationwide.

“I award the sum of N5, 000,000 (Five million Naira) against the Respondents jointly or severally as exemplary and /or aggravated for the unlawful violation of the Applicant’s Fundamental Rights

Justice E.S Nri-Eze also noted that for the cost follow event, the Applicant is entitled to cost of this action which I access and fix at N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) against the Respondents jointly or severally.

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