The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has directed the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and six others to pay the sum of N10 million to one Mr Frank Eko over the case of illegal arrest, detention, assault, battery, humiliation and brutalization.
Oko had dragged the NSCDC; the State Commandant, NSCDC; Mr Ayuk Assam John, the divisional officer in charge of Ogoja Division of the corps; Mr Michael Akwo, Mr Sunday Anoh; Mr Daniel Ebor, and Mr Wilfred Odey to court in May 2016 seeking enforcement of his fundamental rights which he claimed were violated in a case with suit number FHC/CA/FHR/47/2016.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Inyang Ewko declared that the actions of the respondents, particularly third and seventh respondents, Mr Ayuk Assam John and Mr Wildred Odey, respectively, in arresting, detaining and brutalizing, intimidating and traumatizing the applicant; extorting and seizing/confiscating monies from him without any lawful cause, all amounts to abuse of office, ultra vires their statutory responsibilities and powers as provided for in the NSCDC Act No 6 of 2007; Cap N146, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010, thus illegal, unconstitutional and tantamount to a violation of the applicant’s fundamental human rights to his dignity of human person, personal liberty and freedom movement as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Judge ordered that all the respondents jointly and severally pay the sum of N10 million as damages in exemplary and aggravated nature for the embarrassment, harassments, humiliation, torture, pains psychological and mental the applicant was exposed to and suffered as a result of inhuman, malicious and degrading treatment of the applicant’s fundamental human rights.
The Court also ordered the respondents to jointly and severally pay the applicant the sum of N200, 000 for his medical bills at Police Clinic, Ogoja occasioned by the assault and battery.
It also ordered the respondents to jointly and severally pay the applicant the sum of N200, 000 per day and for 25 days they detained the applicant’s truck with Reg No UMA && YW on the false and erroneous allegation that the applicant was diverting automotive gas oil (AGO), popularly known as diesel in the tanker, amounting to a total sum of N5 million.
It also ordered the respondents, particularly Mr Ayuk Assam John and Mr Wilfred Odey to pay the applicant N100, 000 extorted from him before the applicant and the other three persons in the vehicle were released on January 7, 2016 and the sum of N860, 000 seized, confiscated or stolen by John and Odey from the applicant’s Toyota Camry Saloon car with Reg No ABJ 903 HY driven into the respondents’ premises, amounting to N960, 000.
Ekwo also directed the respondents to tender a written unreserved apology to the applicant within 30 days of the judgment.
The case of the applicant from the affidavit he deposed indicated he was a businessman, an Independent Petroleum Marketer, and Manager of Tonimas Petrol Service Station along Igoli Road, Okuku, Yala local government area, and Managing Director of Ultimate Frank Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
According to the affidavit on January 7, 2016 at about 9am the third and seventh respondents intercepted and arrested the applicant’s petrol tanker with registration no UMA 77 YW laden with AGO from the company’s depot at Onne, Rivers State for delivery at their Okuku Service Station.
It read in part, “There was a delivery note No 018645 dated 5th January, 2016 (Exhibit MEU-1) from Onne depot.
The vehicle was taken from Ogoja local government council gate into the Council headquarters where the respondents have an office on an unfounded allegation that the product was being diverted.
The AGO was to be delivered at Tonimas Petrol Service Station along Igoli Road in Okuku Yala, which is a distance of 5 to 8 kilometres from Yala.
The third and seventh respondents refused to listen to any explanation concerning the tanker and AGO but subjected the applicant to beatings using their belts, sticks, butts of their guns, the result of which caused swellings and lacerations all over his body.
He was further taken to the office of the respondents where he was further humiliated by being asked to frog-jump and detained with three others in their cell for onwards of seven hours.”
Eko had gone to court demanding N100, 000 damages but got granted N10 million.
18 January, 2018