The Akwa Ibom State High Court, sitting in IbionoIbom, has ordered the Assistant Inspector General of Police and Inspector Patrick Edet both of Zone 6 Command in Calabar, Cross River State, to pay the sum of N5m as compensation to one Edet Okpo, a journalist, for his wrongful arrest and unconstitutional detention for seven days.
Justice Okon Okon gave the order after finding the duo guilty of contravening the provisions of Section 35(4) and (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The order was contained in a judgment he delivered in a case of enforcement of fundamental rights filed before the court by the applicant.
Joined in the suit were Commodore Emmanuel Effedua, the Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron (1st respondent); Inspector Patrick Edet, IPO, Police Zonal Headquarters, Zone 6, Calabar (2nd respondent) and Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Calabar (3rd respondent).
In a one-hour judgment, Okon also ordered the 2nd and 3rd respondents to return or refund to the applicant, the sum of N1,995,000, being the money they collected from the journalist without lawful occasion while he was in their custody.
He declared “that the arrest and detention of the applicant by the 2nd and 3rd respondents from 17th July, 2020 to 20th July, 2020 was unconstitutional and constituted an infringement of the applicant’s right to personal liberty and freedom of jmovement.”
“The case of the applicant is that he arrived at the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo on 17/7/2020, following a phone call he received and the 2nd respondent informed him of a petition, which the 1st respondent had written against him. The applicant said he was taken into the central cell and detained thereat from 17/7/2022 till 20/7/2020 where he was transferred to Zone 6 Police Headquarters, Calabar.”
Okon said “while in the custody of the 2nd and 3rd respondents, the applicant said the 2nd respondent led him to UBA, Aka Road Branch, Uyo, where he was forced to withdraw Two Million Naira(#2,000000) and handed over to the 2nd respondent.”