Court Strikes Out Bizwoman’s N50m Rights Suit Against IGP, Others
Justice Nicholas Oweibo of a Lagos Federal High Court, has struck out a N50 million fundamental rights Enforcement suit, filed by a businesswoman, Omotosho Omolara, against the Inspector-General of Police and five others, for lack of jurisdiction.
Apart from striking out the suit, Justice Oweibo also ordered the businesswoman to pay a sum of N30, 000, each to four of the respondents in the suit.
The judge struck out the suit and awarded the cost against the businesswoman after going through the counter-affidavit filed and argued by Barrister Morufu A. Animashaun, of the legal department of Force CID, Annex, Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos
Omotosho had dragged IGP, Commissioner of Police, General Investigation Unit, Force CID, Alagbon; Superintendent Abiodun Bamgboshe; Tajudeen Oladega; Peter Odey and Olujimi Bucknor, for breaching her fundamental rights in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/215/2018, as first to six respondents.
The applicant through her lawyer, J. J. Akinrotimi, had asked the court for declaration that the Nigerian Police does not enjoy any legal right to dabble into or interfere in civil matters clothing same criminal and as such illegal, resulting in flagrant breach of the constitutional duties endowed them under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A declaration that the Nigeria Police and its officers of whatever level, lacks the right under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to constitute itself or themselves into a debt Recovery Agency or Agents. And a declaration that the action of the second and third respondents as agents of the first respondent, working in concert with the fourth, fifth and sixth respondents in their attempt to forcefully take possession and transfer same within themselves of vehicles viz: Black Toyota 4Runner with Chasis No. JTEBU14R06010491, Silver Toyota 4Runner with Chasis No: JTEXUSJR8A500 and Mack Truck with Registration details BG6M111AGFBO22549, are unlawful and a flagrant breach of the Applicants rights of ownership in law or right of lien is(sic) the said vehicles.
She also asked the court for an order that the above listed vehicles in the possession of the fourth respondent used as collateral by the fourth respondent to procure loan from her firm (Bills & Cash Ventures) be released to her forthwith, until full liquidation of the said loan. And an order of the court directing the first to third respondents to take necessary steps under the law to prosecute the fourth respondent for issuance of dud cheques to her firm and forgery in tampering with the Silver Toyota 4Runner registration whilst the original documents were in the possession of the Applicant having delivered same as collateral for loan.
She also asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, servants and privies from further employing the coercive powers of the Nigeria Police to interfere in a case that is entirely contractual, to harass and intimidate her with respect to this case. And an order compelling all the respondents jointly or severally to pay her the sum of N50 million, being general damages for the unwarranted treatment and the unlawful conduct of the Respondents towards and Applicants.
However, the first to third respondents through their Counsel, Morufu A. Animashaun Esq, of Legal Department, ForceCID Annex, Alagbon, and Mr. Adeleke Adepoju, Counsel to sixth respondent, in their counter-affidavits asked the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
Counsel to the first to third respondents, Animashaun, had asked the court to determination whether the reliefs sought by the applicant can be accommodated under the fundamental rights (enforcement procedure) Rules, 2009.
While the Counsel to the sixth respondent, Mr. Adepoju, also asked the court to determine if the applicant suit can be adjudicated and determined under the provisions of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and in particular section 46(1) thereof vis-a-vis the Applicant’s claims and reliefs thereof.
And Having regards to the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case is the Applicant entitled to the reliefs sought or at the minimum against the 6th Respondent.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Oweibo held that: “I have studied the reliefs sought by the applicant. I notice that in none of the reliefs is the section of the constitution contravened mentioned, thereby leaving it to the court to guess which section a claim is coming under. Even at that, it is difficult to fix reliefs a, b, c, e and f, which appear to be the principal claims, into any of the sections of Chapter IV of the Constitution.
“In relief, the applicant is alleging not given an opportunity to state her own side of the story. This may come up under section 36 of the Constitution, but as stated in the case of Emeka vs. Okoroafor (2017) LPELR41/738) (SC), the provisions of fair hearing guaranteed in section 36 should be related to proceedings in court or tribunal established by law.
“l entirely agree with the Respondents that ve cams of the Applicant cannot be adjudicated as an ene the enforcement of fundamental rights. According, this court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain same. In line with Order 8 rules 5 and 6 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 this application is struck out.
“I award cost of N30, 000 in favour of the first, second and third Respondents and N30, 000 in favour of the sixth respondent”.