Sat. Oct 23rd, 2021

Alleged Rights Breach: Court Dismisses Businessman’s N100m Suit Against IGP, Other

IGP Muhammad A. Adamu

Alleged Rights Breach: Court Dismisses Businessman’s N100m Suit Against IGP, Other

A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, dismissed a N100 million suit filed by a businessman, John Obi against the Inspector-General of Police and a limited liability company, Suntory Beverage and Food Limited, for lacking in merits.

The court presided over by Justice Ayokunle Faji, also dismissed the businessman’s request for court’s declaration that his arrest and detention between June 6 and 7, 2018, by the men of Force Criminal Investigation Department (ForceCID) Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos, was unlawful, persecutory, illegal and in gross violation of his personal liberty as guarantee by Sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ratification and Enforcement Act (Cap. A10) laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Justice Faji also declined the businessman’s request for order compelling the police to pay back the sum of N6, 350, 000, million, he claimed to have been forced to paid as his bail and part of his debt settlement the first respondent, Suntory Beverage and Food Limited.

The businessman, John Obi, had instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the the limited liability company and Inspector-General of Police in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1080, through his lawyer, Mrs. Funmi Falana, of Falana and Falana Chambers.

In the suit, the businessman had alleged that he was arrested at his business place and detained without warrant by the men of IGP at the instance of limited liability company.

However, the limited liability company through its counsel, Dipo Torhukerhijo, had told the court that it only reported the businessman to the police over a debt of over N83 million, which he failed to pay after several demands and issuance of dud cheques.

While the police through its counsel, Barrister Morufu Animashaun, in it’s counter-affidavit, denied detaining and torturing the applicant.

The police stated that the both the applicant and the second respondent were invited after receiving a petition on alleged issuance of dud cheques from the complainant.

The police stated further that there ewas no time the businessman was forced to pay the sum of N6 million but he voluntarily paid the money as part of his debt to the first respondent (the limited liability company). 

In dismissing the businessman’s suit, today, Justice Faji held that: “there is thus no evidence that indeed, applicant was detained from 6th June, 2018 to 7th June, 2018. The facts actually show that he was not, contrary to his own position, detained. indeed, in the entirety of his affidavit in support, Applicant did not refer to the presence of his lawyer at the Police station on 7th June, 2018 and failed to deny the pointed deposition that the cheque for #6,000,000.00 was issued by him applicant in the presence of his wife and his lawyer. That the cheque was voluntarily issued is apparent from the fact that first respondent’s solicitor signed for it (further emphasising the fact that the payment was voluntary). What is more, the cheque, from Applicant’s statement of account, was not presented until 11th June, 2018, 3 days thereafter. It was issued in favour of Counsel and paid into Counsel’s account. It would in my view have been otherwise if the payment was made under duress. 

“On the allegations of being beaten by hardened criminals does not also to my mind hold water. There should, in my view been a complained to the Police about this, particularly, the applicant’s Counsel was present at all material times. 

“The Courts must at a times be wary of preventing law enforcement from carrying out its functions. Where a citizen does acts which are in violation of the law, he should be ready to face the rhythm of the criminal justice system and not seek refuge under fundamental rights proceedings. 

“In the instant case, l must hold that the applicant, has not shown why he should be granted the declarations sought. I therefore refuse the 3 declaratory reliefs.Rehefs d-g are ancillary to reliefs a-c. Reliefs a-c having failed; reliefs d-g have no leg to stand on. 

“This application is therefore totally bereft of merit. It is hereby dismissed In its entirety”.