Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Court Awards N5m Against Emeka Offor, I.G For Illegally Detaining Bizman For 37days!
Here are details of the development
as obtained from the-magnate
'Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Mohammed D. Abubakar, has been ordered to pay damages of five million naira for committing gross abuse of the basic rights of a businessman who has been one of the biggest critics of Emeka Offor , a shadowy businessman. The judgment arose from the IG’s illegal arrest and detention of Comrade Bonny Okonkwo last year. Mr. Okonkwo, who hails from Oraifite, the same hometown of Mr. Offor, was reportedly arrested at the behest of Mr. Offor who is known to be very close to IGP Abubakar.
Justice Peter Afere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered today’s stinging verdict against the Inspector General of Police. Justice Afere stated that the police committed “gross violations of the fundamental rights” of Mr. Okonkwo who is based in South Africa.
Our correspondent reported that the case, which was handled by Sam Ogala of the law chambers of Femi Falana, was a blow against Mr. Offor whose kinsfolk accuse him of exploiting his closeness to the IG of Police to use police officers to intimidate, harass arrest and detain people from Oraifite who refuse to kowtow to his dictates. The plaintiff was seeking damages of N1 billion against Mr. Offor.
Jeff Njikonye represented Emeka Offor in the case. There was no lawyer in court on behalf of the police.
Justice Afere concluded that Mr. Okonkwo’s “illegal detention for 37 days amounts to an unreasonable length of time” and amounted to dehumanization of the plaintiff.
A relative of the victorious South Africa-based businessman told our correspondent that police officers stormed Mr. Okonkwo’s Lagos home on July 17, 2013 and arrested the man. The source added that the officers were specifically deployed by the IG of Police to undertake the illegal mission. “They chained Comrade Okonkwo, threw him into the boot of car, and then drove him all the way to Abuja,” said the source, adding that the traumatized businessman was then thrown into a police cell. “Can you imagine that the police people under the order of the IG continued to hold Comrade Okonkwo for a period that was more than a month.”
After arresting Mr. Okonkwo, the police accused him of defaming Mr. Emeka Offor in a piece he reportedly wrote and published on Mbala Obodo, a listserv featuring discussion of issues pertaining to Oraifite.
Our correspondent reported that Mr. Okonkwo was only released on August 23, 2013 after Chief Magistrate Dahiru ordered that he be granted bail.
'Mr. Okonkwo reportedly ran into trouble with Mr. Offor for writing a piece that criticized Offor for donating a million dollars to a philanthropic group, Rotary International. Mr. Offor’s donation was meant to help eradicate polio around the globe. Mr. Okonkwo noted that Emeka Offor could have spent some of the money on Oraifite people facing economic hardship. Mr. Okonkwo also wondered why Mr. Offor had failed to use part of the money he donated to repay depositors who lost their deposits when Afex Bank, in which Offor was chairman, failed.
The plaintiff contended that his rights were violated when the police denied him access to his lawyer, took away his phones, and detained him a congested cell along with hardened suspects. He added that some of the inmates assaulted him.
Justice Afare ruled that Mr. Okonkwo be paid N5 million as punitive damages. In addition, he ordered the police to immediately return Mr. Okonkwo’s seized passport'