An appeal filed by the Nigerian Police Force against the judgment of an Edo State High Court which awarded N5 million compensation to a human rights activist, Reverend David Ugolor, for unlawful detention, has been quashed by the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin.
In the lead ruling read by Justice Jimmy Olukayode Bada on behalf of two other judges, the Court dismissed the notice of appeal filed by the police to specifically stop the deposit or lodgement of the N5 million judgment sum that was awarded to Ugolor with the Court of Appeal Registry, pending the determination of the police substantive appeal at the Supreme Court, after the police had earlier lost its appeal against the judgment at the same Court of Appeal.
Justice Bada disagreed with the Nigerian Police Force that the Appeal Court should stay its action since it has already filed two notices of appeal at the Supreme Court on the judgment, adding that “the notice of appeal is incompetent,” dismissed it and urged the police to go and put its house in order, hence.
Counsel to Ugolor, Mr. Olayiwola Afolabi of Olayiwola Afolabi & Co, had made rubbished the defence of the police when he told the court that the police were merely wasting the time of His Lordships with their incompetent notice of appeal after police counsel, Mr. Igwe, pleaded that the court should exercise patient until the substantive appeal against the judgment was determined.
When the case was called on Thursday afternoon, non of the first, second and third Respondents, the Nigerian Police, the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation respectively, were present in the court.
With the dismissal of appeal, the road has now been cleared for the police to formally lodge or deposit the judgment sum of N5 million with the court, pending the determination of substantive police appeal at the Supreme Court.
It would be recalled that an Edo State High Court, presided by Justice Esther Edigin on Friday, 14 September, 2012, awarded the sum of N5 million in favour of Ugolor, the Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), for the violation of his fundamental human rights by the police: the IGP and the AGF, both of whom lost their appeal against the judgment in May, 2013 in a ruling by Justice Helen Morounkeji Ogunwumiju of the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal had specifically ordered the IGP and AGF to pay the judgment sum of N5m to the Deputy Chief Registrar within 60 days of the judgment for the Deputy Chief Registrar to remit same into an interest yielding account pending the court judgment on the matter.
It would also be recalled that on 13 October, 2015, Justice E. O. Ahamioje, awarded Ugolor N1.02 million compensation for unlawful seizure of his personal properties as a result of poor police investigation of the death of Olaitan Oyerinde, the then Principal Private Secretary to Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
That brings to a total of N6.02 million costs that Ugolor has been awarded in compensation for the poor investigation carried out by a police ‘special team’ constituted from the Force Headquarters in Abuja to unravel the murder of Oyerinde and despatched under the leadership of the then DCP Chris Ezike, who is now the Commissioner of Police for Edo State.
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