Court Rejects Kanu’s Unlawful Detention Suit             

The Court of Appeal, on Monday, dismissed the appeal filed by Felix Okonkwo, one of the lawyers for the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, over his unlawful arrest and detention by the police and the State Security Services (SSS).

Justice Okon Abang dismissed the appeal for want of merit.

Delivering judgement, Mr Abang held that the appellant failed to establish a miscarriage of justice in the judgement of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in the matter.

The appellants, comprising Mr Okonkwo, Ikenna Chibuike and Okafor Ugochukwu, had dragged the Nigeria Police Force and the SSS before the high court for the enforcement of their client’s fundamental human rights.

The appellants specifically accused the two security agencies of violating their fundamental rights by their unlawful arrest and detention on September 27, 2021, during which they claimed that they were tortured, harassed and intimidated while in the custody of the police.

Justice Samaila Bature, in his judgement delivered on March 24, 2022, found the police liable for the unlawful arrest and detention of the appellants and subsequently imposed a fine of N2 million on the police to be paid to the appellants.

Mr Bature, however, did not make any order against the SSS because the appellant and plaintiffs did not disclose any cause of action against the state services.

Not satisfied with the findings and decisions of the high court, the three plaintiffs had approached the Court of Appeal, praying for an order to hold that SSS was also culpable in their arrest and detention.

They claimed that the N2 million imposed on the police as a fine was paltry and ridiculously low and they asked the appellate court to jerk up the fine as compensation for their unlawful arrest and detention.

In a unanimous judgement by a three-man panel of the appellate court, Mr Abang held that from the video footage tendered as exhibit by the appellants at the trial court, there was no evidence that the operatives of the SSS were found at the scene of their arrest in the house of Ifeanyi Ejiofor in Anambra State.

He disagreed with the appellants in their claims that the N2 million in compensatory damages was grossly insufficient.

According to Mr Abang, the decision to award compensatory damages is at the discretion of a judge and cannot be dictated by any plaintiff or appellant.

In the instant case, Mr Abang agreed with Mr Bature that the perculiar facts and circumstances of the unlawful arrest and detention of the appellants were carefully considered at the trial court before arriving at the amount.

Besides, Mr Abang said that the appellants did not point out irrelevant facts in the judgement of the high court and did not also disclose their status in society; they did not point out their monthly or yearly income and also did not point out what they lost in the course of their detention.

“In my opinion and going by the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, the N2 million compensation to the appellants was properly awarded.

“I cannot fault the award because the appellant did not give any good reason for them to have been awarded a much higher amount.

“In the final analysis, the appeals lack merit and they are accordingly dismissed. The decision of the trial court is hereby affirmed. There is order as to cost,” Mr Abang held.

Justices Joseph Oyewole and Abba Bello Mohammed endorsed the unanimous judgement delivered by Mr Abang.

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