Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo, the state capital has ordered the State Commissioner of Police, Andrew Amiengheme, to pay a barber, one Haggai Oscar Oku, a native of Itam, Itu Local Government Area of the State the sum of N2m for unlawful arrest and detention.
The barber was arrested and detained under a mistaken identity on December 18, 2020 by the officers and men of the command.
The presiding judge, justice Ntong in the suit between Oku and the Commissioner of Police, held that the Commissioner, through his officers and men violated the personal liberty of the applicants by arresting and detaining him in place of another person popularly called Soft Touch.
He said even though there was no direct evidence of torture on the applicant but the issue of arresting someone under a mistaken identity without trial for a long time was too grave to be ignored, adding that the onus falls on the commissioner to check the activities of officers and men under him at all times.
He said following the decline of purchasing power of Naira in Nigeria, the applicant should be compensated in monetary term.
Justice Ntong further said that it’s high time Nigeria police began to respect the constitution and rights of the citizens as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said ” I hold that the unlawful arrest and the continuous detention of the applicant without trial till the day this Honourable Court granted him bail, amount to torture as the applicant suffered aggravated psychological harassment. Though there is no direct evidence of torture of the applicant by the respondent. The only situation that can assuage and ameliorate the suffering of the applicant is payment of damages in monetary term.”
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