A Lagos Federal High Court will on August 29 deliver judgment in a N300million suit filed by suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a. Evans, against the police. Evans in praying the court to declare his detention illegal.
Justice Abdulazeez Anka fixed the date yesterday after taking arguments from Evans’ counsel Olukoya Ogungbeje and lawyers for the police.
The judge dismissed the police claim that the suit was not ripe for hearing. He also rejected the N300,000 “punitive costs” sought against Ogungbeje for alleged wrongful service.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Commissioner of Police (CP) Lagos State and Lagos Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are the respondents in the case.
Counsel for both the IGP and the NPF, Henry Obiazi, urged the court to dismiss the suit for want of merit.
He said the case had to do with murder, armed robbery and kidnapping, which were all capital offences.
Citing Section 35 (7) of the Constitution, Obiazi argued that Evans’ fundamental rights were not absolute, adding that the ‘billionaire kidnapper’ would soon be arraigned by the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
“Though the Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of every Nigerian citizen, these rights are not absolute, particularly, when they have to do with capital offences. I urge the court to hold that the application is unmeritorious and dismiss it”, Obiazi said.
The CP’s and SARS’, Counsel Emmanuel Eze, argued that Evans had not shown any cause of action against his clients.
He claimed that Evans was arrested by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) set up by the IGP and not by his clients.
Eze faulted claims that the applicant was subjected to media trial, saying no material fact was placed before the court in that regard.
According to him, the nature of the offences allegedly committed by Evans was conspiracy, armed robbery, kidnapping and murder.
Besides, he alleged that before his arrest, Evans was involved in many robberies, including series of attacks on bullion vans and many policemen were killed.
“My Lord, it is not up to 90 days that the applicant was arrested. Besides, there is an order of the court for his remand. The applicant is an international kidnapper terrorising states across the country.
“I urge the court to dismiss this application with punitive costs so as to serve as a deterrent to others who may want to file such frivolous applications in future”, Eze said.
But, Ogungbeje urged the court to hold that the respondents had run foul of the law by detaining Evans since last June 10.
He faulted the respondents’ arguments that a suspect accused of committing a capital offence can be detained without a court’s order.
According to him, the assertion may be applicable only at the point where the suspect is seeking bail after his arraignment.
“The proper thing for the respondents to do is to have the applicant arraigned and then inform the court about the capital nature of the offence upon which he may then be remanded in their custody”, he said.
Evans is seeking an order that the police charge him to court or release him on bail and pay him N300million damages for his alleged unlawful detention.