Anambra Court Orders SARs to Pay N5m to Onitsha Business man

Anambra Court Orders SARs to Pay N5m to Onitsha Business man
From Alphonsus Nweze
An Anambra High Court sitting in Ogidi,I Idemili Local Government of the State has ordered some Police officers attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to pay the sum of N5 million as compensation to an Onitsha business man, Ugochukwu Oraefo for extortion, illegal arrest, unlawful detention and torture.
Another Police Officer who was not attached to SARs was among the officers that will pay N5m to Oraefo.
Mr Oraefo who is an Onitsha based businessman was sometime in 2019 whisked away from his factory by men of Special Anti-robbery Squad to their office at Awkuzu, where he was unlawfully detained, subjected to excruciating torture and criminally extorted the sum of Six Million Naira (N6,000,000.00) as ransom from him.
But Oraefo through his lawyer, Justus Ijeoma, the Executive Director of International Human Rights and Equity Defence Foundation (I-REF) instituted a fundamental right enforcement action against the respondents.

The respondents in the suit marked “HID/MISC/ 129/2018 were Commissioner of Police, SP Sunday Okpe, immediate retired Officer in charge of Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) Nigeria Police Force, Awkuzu; DSP, Elias, Commander of Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) Nigeria Police Force ,Neni; Commander of Special Anti-robbery Squad(SARS) Nigeria Police Force, Ogidi and Sgt. Osmond Tagbo, Police officer attached to SARS, Neni office.
The plaintiff had prayed the court to award N100 million against the respondents jointly and severally as compensation for the unlawful detention, torture and other breaches of the applicant’s fundamental rights.
The plaintiff also prayed the court to direct the respondents to tender a written apology which will be published in a very conspicuous page in two daily national newspapers.
Justice E.S Nri-Eze in his judgement onMarch 5, 2019 held that the respondents failed to prove that the arrest, detention, and torture of the applicant were justified in law as the applicant had adduced credible and sufficient evidence to prove that his fundamental rights were violated most unjustifiably when he was arrested, detained and tortured by the respondents who extorted N6 million from him.
Said the Judge
“I hold that applicant’s fundamental rights were grossly abused and violated when the respondents subjected him to such cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture.
It was wrong, unconscionable and I dare to say a gross abuse of office for the respondents to subject the applicant to such inhuman treatment merely to intimidate and extort such huge amount of money from the applicant”.
He said the applicant, from the peculiar facts of this suit,was entitled to exemplary or aggravated damages against the respondents for the cruel, outrageous and flagrant disregard and violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to life and dignity of human person.
“The respondents are hereby restrained from further harassing the Applicant.
“The respondents are hereby ordered to tender a written apology to the Applicant, either collectively or individually published in a very conspicuous page in two daily Newspapers circulating nationwide.
“I award the sum of N5, 000,000 (Five million Naira) against the respondents jointly or severally as exemplary and /or aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights” said the Judge.
Justice E.S Nri-Eze also awarded N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) against the respondents jointly or severally..

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