Unlawful Detention: Lawyer seeks redress before panel

By Godwin Edeh

A lawyer with the Metropolitan Attorneys in Makurdi, Barr Conleth Igbakua, had recently appeared before the Judicial Panel of Investigation into Human Rights Violations by the Police and the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives sitting in Makurdi the Benue state capital, demanding for the payment of judgement sum and the interest accrued with effect from the date judgement was delivered.

Barr lgbawua who is a lawyer with the Metropolitan Attorneys here in Makurdi, led by his counsel, Emmanuel Hundu testified on oath, how on 5 October, 2007, he was unlawfully detained by one Corporal Jinge and Mr Gabriel the Investigating Police Officer at the Divisional Police Headquarters, Anunne, Tarka Local Government Area of Benue state on the order of the then DPO.

According to Igbakua, he earlier went to Tarka in respect of his client’s daughter who was adopted by her fianc√© (now husband) to seek the intervention of the police for a peaceful resolution of the matter and stop further harassment and intimidation from her former husband and SARS operatives.

However, according to him, he was arrested and detained by the police without any provocation. Failure by the then Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command to address his unlawful arrest and detention, Igbawua approached the Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi and presided over by Justice C.A Aneke, seeking among other reliefs, the court to declare that, his unlawful arrest, detention, harassment, assault, battery and imprisonment was unconstitutional and a gross violation of his fundamental human rights to his personal liberty and dignity of his person.

Also, an order restraining the respondents from further harassment, intimidation, arrest or his detention in connection with the circumstances of the matter.

Joined in the suit were the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police, Benue State Police Command and four (4) others and judgement was subsequently delivered in his favour and judgement sum of N2 million was awarded to him.

During cross examination by the counsel to the police and the O/C Legal Benue State Police Command, Superintendent of Police, F.N Agwu Esq, Igbawua told the panel that, all efforts to recover the judgement sum from the police proved abortive while the Central Bank of Nigeria told him that they don’t have police account in any of its network.

It was on the strength of this, he now decided to approach the panel to intervene by compelling the respondent (police) to comply with the judgement of the federal high court and the interest accrued with effect from the date of judgement.

He tendered before the panel, judgement of the court which was adopted by the panel as Exhibit A, and petition was marked as Exhibit B which was also adopted by the honourable panel in evidence.

So far, the petitioner has presented his witnesses and closed his case, waiting for the respondent to enter his defence. The matter was later adjourned to 22 February, 2021 for defence.

In a related development, the counsel to the police and the O/C Legal, Benue State Police Command, Superintendent of Police, F.N Agwu Esq, informed the panel that failure of respondents in the alleged offence to appear before the panel was as a result of their engagement in their various states as most of them are now on transfer, while others are also appearing before similar panels in their new states of engagement.

Agwu told the panel that he had contacted the Squadron Administrative Officer who told him that the personnel in question are not yet back but promised to resend a signal to remind them on the urgent need to appear before the panel.

SP Agwu earlier applied for subpoena to compel respondents to personally testify in their case but was turned down by the panel.

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