List to this page write up
For breaching the fundamental rights of two citizens, a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has imposed two fines of N5million each on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Commander, IGP Monitoring Unit, Port Harcourt, Alex Udeze, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP).
Also found culpable by the court in detaining the plaintiffs, Sunny Pollyn and Iyalla Pollyn, beyond 48 hours as prescribed by law, is the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Calabar, though he was excluded in the payment of the fine.
Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali
The fourth defendant, David Pollyn was, however, exonerated by the presiding judge, Justice Phoebe Ayua, who held that his petition and arrest and detention of the applicants resulting from it where lawful.
David Pollyn is the Chairman of the Pollyn Atem Ibulu War Canoe House of Bonny Kingdom in Rivers State, of which the plaintiffs, Sunny Pollyn and Iyalla Pollyn, are principal members.
Justice Ayua, in her judgment in both suits: FHC/PH/FHR/208/2019 and FHC/PH/FHR/209/2019, held that the arrest of the applicants is lawful, however, their detention which lasted for four days is a breach of their fundamental rights, and subsequently imposed a fine of N5 million on the respondents for each of the cases.
In a chat with Kristina Reports shortly after the ruling, counsel to the applicants, Joseph Fombo described the judgement as “palliative to his clients,” saying “they have gone through lots of psychological and physical injuries in course of seeking justice in the case”.
“The court just delivered its judgement; it has to do with breach of the fundamental rights of the applicants, Warisenibo Sunny Bedwell Pollyn, and Warisenibo Iyalla John Pollyn, who are principal members of Pollyn Atem Ibulu War Canoe House.”
“After going through our submissions and arguments, the court found that, of a truth, that the first to third respondents, which are the Assistant Inspector General of Police, and the IGP, in Aluu, Port Harcourt here, violated their fundamental rights and awarded the sum of five million naira each for the breach.”
“We have to say that the court has really done well, because justice is not easy to come by in Nigeria; justice is something you have to travel a long way to get. The applicants have gone through a lot, striking off the application, adjournment, service at Abuja, they have spent real money.”
“I think the judgement will serve as a palliative for all they have suffered, even though no amount of money will be enough to compensate them for the kind injury they went through not to talk of the mental and physical injury they went through. So, I think it’s reasonable, I will say the compensation is reasonable.”
Also speaking, counsel to the fourth respondent, Tope Duyilemi, said the ruling serves as a victory for the Pollyn Chieftaincy House at large, expressing gladness that his client, Wariopusenibo David Pollyn, who he said was the target of the suit exonerated.
“The proceedings in court today was favourable, to the extent that our client, who happened to be the target of the applicant in the suit, was exonerated by the honourable court, the court declared explicitly, unequivocally, that the arrest of the applicant was lawful.”
“On that basis, the petition written by our client against the applicant for his arrest, was upheld by the court to be lawful and that our client is not culpable to have been liable against any act that the applicant must have allegedly have committed against him.”
“So, by this, we are very happy that it’s a judgement that we will celebrate, it is a judgment that will definitely stand the test of the time.”
On his part, counsel to the Police, Friday Sokari said he will have to go back and deliberate with his clients to determine their next line of action, declining, however, to say if the Police was going to appeal the judgment or pay the fine to the applicants.
“In the instant case, which are the two consolidated suits, 208 and 209, I represented the first, second and third respondents, who are police officers where the case today was fixed for judgement.”
“Judgement has been delivered and the court, in its wisdom, had said that the arrest of the applicants is lawful, lawful in the sense that they were invited first, and they dishonoured such invitation, hence the arrest, and the court upheld that the arrest was lawful.”
“But their detention was mean, was longer, they stayed for about four days before they were charged to court. The court frowned that even when there were 11 sureties to take the applicants on bail, that the police never admitted them on bail.”
“They gave them till four days before they charged them to court, that they know that nobody, not even the court can question the police when it comes to investigation, arrest and detention but that must be done within the bounds of the law, and not over detention.”