The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday declined awarding N500m damages against the Nigeria Police Force for the arrest, detention and parade of Alhaji Alaka Abayomi before the media on July 31, 2017 as an alleged sponsor and godfather of the murderous ritual group, Badoo.
Though Justice Muslim Hassan knocked the police for Abayomi’s detention beyond 24 hours without a court order, he declined the prayer to award exemplary damages of N500m in favour of the oil marketer against the police.
The judge also declined his prayer that the court should order the police to “publish and furnish an unreserved apology to the applicant in four national daily newspapers and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.”
The judge noted that despite evidence that the police were served with the suit and hearing notices, they did not show up in court to defend it.
Joined as respondents in the suit, were the Inspector-General of Police, Commissioner of Police in Lagos State; and CSP Obot Umoh of the IGP Special Tactical Squad, Lagos.
In his judgment on Tuesday, Justice Hassan held, “I can see that despite the hearing notice ordered by this court to be served on the respondents, no counter-affidavit was filed to controvert the claims of the plaintiff, which amount to an admission by the respondents.
“I have read and examined the relief and the affidavit of the applicant in the instant suit, which is not contradicted, and discovered that the detention of the plaintiff herein beyond 24 hours, without an order of court, is a breach of his fundamental rights enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
“I agree that the police cannot be prevented from carrying out their constitutional duty but this must be done within the purview of the law and the constitution.”
Alaka had, in the suit filed through his lawyer, Ojehomon Tunde, urged the court to declare that his arrest at his residence in the Magodo area of Lagos and his consequent detention for over 48 hours at the Lagos Command of the Nigeria Police Force was a violation of his right to personal liberty under Section 35 of the constitution.