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Taraba Police to pay suspect N1m over unlawful detention

By Esther Kalu

A Federal High Court sitting in Taraba has ordered the police to pay N1 million in damages to a suspect, Daniel Atabor for breach of his Fundamental Rights through unlawful detention.

Atabor was said to have been arrested on Sept 25 by the Police over an alleged purchase of a stolen Motorcycle from one other person but he was kept in Kabba Custodian centre without bail or being charged.

While delivering judgment on Tuesday, Justice Sunday Bassay-Onu described the detention of Otabor as a “breach of his fundamental rights” having flaunted Section IV of the Police Act, which stipulated that a suspect shouldn’t be detained beyond a day or two days from the time of his/her arrest.

“For keeping the applicant beyond the stipulated time frame within the Police Act amounts to a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

“Consequently, One Million Naira is hereby awarded as damages to the applicant by this honourable Court against the respondents (Police) haven breached his rights and liberty.

“The respondent (Police) is also hereby ordered to release the applicant (Atabor) on bail and charge before a law Court and publicly apologize to him (Atabor) in a national Newspaper forthwith, ” the judge ordered.

As learnt, Atabor had through his counsel prayed the Court to declare his continuous detention by the police as illegal and a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in the nation’s 1999 Constitution and African Charter of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He also said to have demanded N50 million in damages for this arrest and detention beyond the 48 hours stipulated by the Police Act and against sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the nation’s 1999 constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

Atabor also asked for a public apology to be published in a national newspaper by the police over the breach of his fundamental rights and liberty as a citizen of Nigeria.

The Police had, through its Counsel, S.I. Ikutowa, said to have claimed that they (Police) were still investigating the case of a stolen property labeled against him (Atabor).and feared his release from detention would negatively affect their investigations into the matter.

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