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Court quashes N50m fundamental rights suit against police, deposed Anambra monarch

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. awards N.2m cost against applicants

By Chuks Eke

Anambra state High Court sitting at Ekwulobia, Aguata Judicial Division, has quashed a N50 million fundamental rights suit filed against the deposed traditional ruler of Umuona community in Aguata Local Government Area of the state, Igwe Humphrey Ejesieme and the Nigeria Police Force, NPF.

In it’s stead, the court presided over by Justice O .A. Ezeoke awarded N200,000 cost jointly and severally against the applicants in favour of the respondents

The 10 applicants, Sunday Ezeofor, Ernest Onyejekwe, Chukwudi Umeh, Ubam Paschal, Godwin Ezeabulum, Bartholomew Udemba, Kenneth Okoli, Anthony Okoli, Chukwudi Ogbonna and Gilbert Obiakonwa had dragged the four respondents, Igwe Ejesieme, Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG, Zone 13, Ukpo and the Commissioner of Police, CP, Anambra state to the court seeking a declaration that the threat by the respondents to arrest and detain them is a violation of their fundamental rights.

The applicants contended that the actual invitation extended to them by the respondents to appear in Abuja Force CID on September 21, 2023 and the threat to arrest them on their failure to appear on the said date is a violation of their fundamental rights to liberty over a matter that is pending at the. High court in suit No. AG/109/2022 between Nze Fabian Ezeofor and another Versus Igwe Humphrey Ejesieme and two others.

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The applicants insisted that the invitation extended to them by the 2nd to 4th defendants to appear at Force CID, Abuja violated their fundamental rights as enshrined in Sections 35 (1) (c) (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution.

The applicants therefore prayed the court to restrain the 2nd to 4th respondents, their agents, officers, servants and privies from further threats to arrest, detain, harass, intimidate or coerce them in any form howsoever in respect of the matter, adding that the court should direct the respondents to pay them N50 million jointly and severally for violating their fundamental rights.

But in his judgement, Justice Ezeoke noted that the courts cannot stop the police from performing it’s statutory functions as a security agency, adding, “if there is evidence of an infringement of any of the fundamental rights of the applicants, the situation can be remedied but not by stopping police investigations”.

According to Justice Ezeoke, “It is therefore my view and I so hold that the respondents have not violated or infracted the applicants’ fundamental rights to personal liberty enshrined in Section 35 of the 1999 Cinstitution (as amended) and the applicants cannot enforce that right against the respondents in this suit”.

“In the circumstance, the court stated, this suit is hereby dismissed with a cost of N200,000 awarded against the applicants in favour of the respondents”.

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Similarly, Justice Ezeoke has ordered for pleadings in a N3.7 million suit filed against Igwe Ejesieme and Silas Akaneme, former President-General of Umuona Progressive Union, by Chief Anthony Okoli, Ernest Onyejekwe, Kenneth Okoli and Sunday Ezeofor.

The plaintiffs are claiming the total sum of N3.7 million from the defendants out of which N3 million is for stripping them of their various chieftaincy titles while the town Union leadership was still looking into the allegations against them, while N700,000 is for the cost of litigation.

In his judgement shortly after hearing Mike Obi Esq. for the plaintiffs and Ikenna Egbuna SAN with Ifechukwu Malobi and Nkoli Aghadiuno for the defendants, Justice Ezeoke maintained that in the instant case, no material facts have been admitted and as such, the question of construction can be raised.

According to the 23-page judgement, “thus this is not a case where it could be said that there is unlikely to be any substantial dispute or that the facts are undisputed or that they are uncontentious. The instant suit is no doubt hostile proceedings in which pleadings must be ordered. To proceed merely by originating summons would not meet the Justice of this case. In the circumstance, pleadings are ordered to be filed by the parties in this case. There is no order as to costs”.

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