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Rights violation: Court orders police to pay N50m damages to Abiola’s wife

Rights violation: Court orders police to pay N50m damages to Abiola’s wife
  • PublishedJanuary 18, 2024

An Abuja High Court sitting at Gudu has ordered the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, to pay the sum of N50million to Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola, wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola, for violating her fundamental rights.

The court, in the judgement that was delivered by Justice Modupe Osho-Adebiyi, further directed the police authority to tender an apology to Prof. Abiola, in two national dailies.

The judgement followed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit that Abiola’s wife brought before the court.

Cited as Respondents in the suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/2431/2023, were the Inspector General of Police; the NPF itself, Inspector Teju Moses, as well as one Engineer Ibrahim who was identified as the son of a former IGP, Usman Akali Baba.

Prof. Abiola had in her suit, alleged that police officers had some time in 2022, invaded her residence in Abuja and arrested her while she was wearing a nightgown and whisked her to the station.

She told the court that she was detained and tortured for three days without trial.

According to the Applicant, she slept at the police station from September 20 to September 23, 2022.

Prof. Abiola maintained that the unconstitutional action the police took against her, amounted to a gross violation of her fundamental rights.

She, among other things, prayed the court to compel the police to pay her damages to the tune of N500million.

However, the Respondents challenged the competence of the suit which they urged the court to dismiss for want of merit.

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The Respondents claimed that they did not know Prof. Abiola, insisting that the allegation she raised in the suit was false.

However, determined to prove her case, the Applicant tendered before the court, documentary evidence to establish that police had earlier appointed her as a Chief Legal Consultant, CLC.

While delivering judgement in the matter, Justice Osho-Adebiyi said the court was convinced that Prof. Abiola’s rights were trampled upon by the police.

“It is hereby declared that the detention of the Applicant from the 20th day of September 2022 to 23rd September 2022, without arraigning her before a court of competent jurisdiction is a violation of the Applicant’s right to personal liberty under section 35 of the constitution and is therefore unlawful and unconstitutional.

“It is further declared that the arrest of the Applicant by the Defendants in her nightgown without giving her the opportunity to dress decently is an Infringement of her right to personal dignity it is more debasing and a further Infringement of her right to personal dignity when Applicant was paraded in her nightgown. In the circumstances, the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) only is awarded to the Applicant as compensation against the 1st, 2nd and 4th Respondents, jointly.

“The Respondents are hereby ordered to tender a public apology to the Applicant in two of the National Daily Newspapers in pursuance of the provisions of section 35 (6) I of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended),” Justice Osho-Adebiyi held.

Written By
Regina Robinson

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