Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Court Dismisses Bizman’s N10m Rights Breach Suit Against Police, Others

Court Dismisses Bizman’s N10m Rights Breach Suit Against Police, Others

A Lagos Federal High Court, has dismissed a fundamental rights suit filed by a Nigeria businessman, Olumuyiwa Akin-Ogundeji, against the Lagos State Police Commissioner and eight others.

Justice Abimbola Awogboro who presided dismissed there suit for lacking in merit, after perusing all the processes filed by the businessman and other respondents and legally weighed the submissions canvased the respective counsel. 

Listed as first to nine respondents in the suit are: Lagos State Commissioner Of Police; CSP Adamu Abdulkarim, DPO Dolphin Estate Police Station; Supol Samson Adenola, DCO Dolphin Estate Police Station; ASP. Chinwendu Uhegbuibe; Sthenic Finance And Advisory Limited; Sthenic Capital Management Limited; Olateju Ogunronbi, Adebayo Durodola and Bimbola Olusegun, who are Principal Officers In Sthenic Finance Advisory Limited and Sthentic Capital Management Limited.

The businessman through his counsel, Oladimeji Yakubu, had dragged the Lagos State police commissioner and eight others before the court in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1128/2021. 

The applicant, who is an altar ego of Telios outsourcing Limited, had asked the court for the following reliefs among others: “a declaration that his arrest by the second to fourth respondents, and the subsequent his unlawful detention and the degrading treatment for several hours of the office of the second to fourth respondents over a spurious claim and without any justification, is a gross violation of his fundamental rights to liberty dignity of his person and right to freedom of movement as respectively enshrined in Sections 35, 34 and 41 of the constitution of Federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). 

(b) “A declaration that the petition written by the third respondent and its subject matter is done malafide, does not disclose any criminal cause against him and does not in any manner whatsoever apply to him, and that he is not answerable to the respondents as regards the petition. 

(C) “A declaration that the further threat to arrest and detain him by the second to fourth respondents is over fabricated, spurious and concocted claims at Siege behest and machination of the fifth to ninth respondents is unjustifiable in law and amounts to a violation of his fundamental rights to freedom of movement, personal liberty and dignity of his person. 

(D) “A declaration that the threat to arrest and detain him and his close associates by the second to fourth respondents over fabricated and concocted claims at the behest and machination of the fifth to ninth respondents, is unjustifiable In law and amounts to violation of his fundamental rights to freedom of movement, personal liberty and dignity of his person. 

(E) “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents whether by themselves, its agents, privies, representatives and/or assigns from further inviting, arresting, detaining, interrogating or harassing him in respect of the petition authored by the fifth to ninth respondents. 

(F) “An order of the Court mandating the second to fourth respondents to release forthwith the international Passport belonging his Sister, Miss Olumuyiwa Akin-Ogundeji unlawfully withheld on account of the Applicant and currently in the custody of the second to fourth respondents. 

(G) “An order of the Court restraining the Respondents whether by themselves, agents, privies, representatives and/or assigns from disturbing or interfering with the right to liberty of the Applicant or any of his associates through further threat of arrest, detention, intimidation and unnecessary interrogation or in any other way or manner whatsoever. 

(H) “An order of perpetual injunction of the Court restraining the respondents whether by themselves, its agents, privies, representatives and/or assigns from inviting, arresting detaining, disturbing of interfering in any manner whatsoever with the fundamental rights of the Applicant in connection with the petition authored by the 5th to 9th Respondents. 

(I) “An order of the court discharging the him, his sister or any other person of every undertaking, surety, and/or obligations imposed on him, his sister or any other person by the second to fourth respondents arising from the unlawful arrest and detention of the Applicant. 

(J) “An order of the court awarding the sum of N10 million, as general and exemplary, damages against the second to fourth respondents, jointly and severally for his unlawful detention and infringement of this constitutionally guaranteed rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement. 

(K) “An order for the publication of an apology by the respondents in two national newspapers for their wrongful and illegal acts.”

But the respondents through their lawyers, Barrister S. Adebesin for first to fourth respondents and M.T Danzaku, for fifth to ninth respondents, had denied any harassment, intimidation or embarrassment on the businessman and asked the court to dismiss the suit against them for been frivolous and lacking in merit.

Counsel to first to fourth respondents, Adebesin, while citing plethoras of authorites, particularly told the court that the applicant was not detained beyond the period required by the constitution, and that the applicant’s requests are nothing but frivolous and aimed at stalling on going investigation on the allegations made against him.

Adebesin therefore urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s suit in its entity.

Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Awogboro, held that “have examined the issues formulated by the parties. | have listened to the oral adumbration of learned counsels on both side in opposition of their written briefs. 

“I hold that two issues can be distilled for determination of the Court. They are: “Whether the evidence adduced In this case has established that the fundamental rights of the Applicant had been breached by Respondents? And “Whether the Applicant is entitled to the reliefs sought for On issue one.”

“Section 4 of the Police Act provides the functions of the second to fourth respondents, One of which is the investigation of crimes. See Has an V. EFCC (2014) 1 NWLR (Pt. 389) 607 @ 631 para. G. As part of the investigation, the Applicant was interviewed by officers of the first respondent and left on that same day after 7 hours as alleged by the applicant. However it is all within 24 hours, applicant alleged he was harassed. 

“Paragraph 27 of the supporting affidavit is very germane. It is here by reproduced: “That I was humiliated, embarrassed, torture, beaten, harassed and dehumanized while in the cell at the Dolphin Estate Police Station for over 7 hours under the watch of the Police Officers of the Dolphin Estate.”

“Section 131 Evidence Act States thus: “Whoever deserves any Court to give Judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts must prove that these facts exist.”

“See Section 131 Evidence Act 2011. See Gbafe V. Gbafe (1966) 6 NWLR (pt. 455) pg. 417 @ 432. The law is that he who assert must prove 

“I find and hold that the applicant did not give any details as to the humiliation, embarrassment, torture, beaten and harassment by the seconnd to fourth respondent or any degrading treatment by officers of the respondent.

“I hold that the civil nature of a business transaction cannot stop a criminal investigation, if is the right and duty of the second to fourth respondents to investigate the criminal allegation contained in the petition and the applicant cannot be protected by the Court from such investigation. 

“From the affidavits, counter Affidavit and further and better affidavits the second to fourth respondent did not request any more interview with the applicant after the initial interview upon receipt of the petition. 

“I find and hold that the rights of the applicant have not been breached. However the thrust of applicant’s case is the likelihood apprehension of or anticipated breach of his fundamental rights. 

“I find and hold that the applicant cannot stop the respondents from carrying out its activities lawfully. The applicant was only invited once and was released on that same day, within 24 hours. The applicant has duly refunded a sum of Five Million Naira to the fifth to ninth respondent. 

“I find and hold that there is no need for any further interview by the second to fourth respondent, they are restrainig from inviting the Applicant. If there is a breach of agreement, the fifth to – ninth respondents should approach the appropriate court. However, I find and hold that the Fundamental right of the applicant has not been breached. 

“However, I will make the following orders on the Reliefs sought by the Applicant: Relief A—The application hereby declined; Relief B —The application hereby declined; Relief C, it is hereby declined; Relief D -It is hereby declined; Relief E–It is hereby granted as prayed; Relief F —It is hereby granted forthwith; Relief G– It is hereby declined; Relief J—It is hereby declined; Relief H—It is hereby declined and Relief K– it is hereby declined. 

“The application is dismissed in its entirety as lacking in merit. This is the Judgment of the Court.”