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Court orders SARS to pay businessman N5m for unlawful arrest and torture

By News Express on 24/03/2019

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

Mr. Oraefo was some time last year whisked away from his factory by SARS operatives to their office at Awkuzu, where he was unlawfully detained, subjected to excruciating torture and criminally extorted the sum of N6 million as ransom.

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 accused.

The respondents in the suit marked “HID/MISC/ 129/2018” were the 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 March 5, 2019 held that the respondents failed to prove that the arrest, detention, and torture of the applicant were justified in law. He ruled that 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.

The judgment reads in part:

“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.

“The 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 damages 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 assess and fix at N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) against the Respondents jointly or severally.”

Source News Express

Posted 24/03/2019 09:58:26 AM





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