By NWEKE NWEKE
ANAMBRA: The Onitsha High Court presided over by His Lordship, Justice M.N.O Okonkwo has ordered the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, SP Bernard Mama of the State Command Monitoring Unit, CMU, one Mr. Obinna Alexander and Mr. Osuji (Police officer attached to CPS, Onitsha) to pay the sum of two million, five hundred thousand Naira to one Mr. Emeka Uzozie and Mrs. Uchenna Uzozie for detaining the applicants cum locking up their three shops above the statutory period as provided by the law.
The applicants had approached the Court on Suit No O/MISC.166/2017, O/1679M/2017 through, their Counsel, Barr. Ndubuisi Akam Esq, seek among other things; a declaration that the arrest and detention of the applicants on the false information of Mr. Ifeanyi Okpalaezeokoli and making Mr. Emeka Uzozie to pay the sum of N500, 000 before the release of Mrs. Uchenna Uzozie from police custody is a breach to the applicant’s rights to personal liberty guaranteed by Section 35(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the applicant’s rights to fair hearing as guaranteed and protected by section 36(1) of the said Constitution.
“A declaration that the arrest and detention of Mrs. Uchenna Uzozie without any just cause is a breach of her rights a breach on her rights to fair hearing as well as that of liberty as guaranteed by Section 35 and 36) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“A declaration that the locking up of Mrs. Uchenna Uzozie’s three shops by the Nigeria Police on the instigation of Mr. Ifeanyi Okpalaezeokoli is a breach on her rights to fair hearing as guaranteed and protected under Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“An order directing Mr. Ifeanyi Okpalaezeokoli to return the sum of N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand Niara) being the amount collected from Mr. Emeka Uzozie before Mrs. Uchenna Uzozie was released.
“An order directing the Command Monitoring Unit, Nigeria Police Awka Area Command to retune the 9 cartons of biscuit they carried from Mrs. Uchenna Uzozie’s shop.
“An order of injunction restraining the police, their agents or whatever called from further arrest, molestation of any kind to the husband and wife.
“The sum of Two Million Naira only (2, 000, 000) being the wroth of the goods damaged in the shop of the husband and wife”, amongst other things prayed the Court by Mr. Emeka Uzozie and his wife.
It will recalled that Mr Uzozie and his wife had in the affidavit alleged that the state commissioner of police, the Area commander, Awka, SP Bernard Mama, Mr Obinna Alexander, DPO CPS and Mr Osuji, Police Officer CPS had locked up their three shops with their own key since 24/6/2016 till 11/8/2016 when it was opened.
“This was not denied by the said respondents. As a matter of fact, they did not even mentioned or refer to it in counter-affidavit. The implication, once again, is that they said averment in the affidavit of the applicants in support of the application remains unchallenged and uncontradicted.
Justice Okonkwo, however said that he is bound to act on same and hold indeed, the police actually locked the three shops of the applicants without the due process of the law. “They took the laws into their hands and deprived the applicants their right over the said property. They should therefore be held libel for the breach of the applicants’ right over the said property”.
Admitting that the police have the statutory duties to arrest and investigate criminal offenses reported to it by virtue of the provision of section 4 of the police act, the Judge however said that he was satisfied that the Police did no wrong by inviting the applicants to their station and detaining them in the cause of their investigation on their complaint made or reported to them by Mr. Ifeanyi Okpalaezeokoli. “They however did wrong by detained Mr. Emeka Uzozie above the statutory provided period and locking up the three shops of the applicants and find them culpable on the two issues.
The reputable Judge however ordered the state commissioner of police, the Area commander, Awka, SP Bernard Mama, Mr. Obinna Alexander, DPO CPS and Mr. Osuji, Police Officer CPS to pay Mr. Emeka Uzozie the sum of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) for infringing on his fundamental right to liberty, while he awarded N2,000,000 (Two Million naira) to Mrs. Uchenna Uzozie for the unlawful lock up of her three shops from 24/6/2016 to 11/8/2016, which the judge said it constitutes an infringement of her right to own property and fair hearing.