An Akure High Court in Ondo State has ordered the Nigeria Police Force(NPF) to pay N250,000 fine as penalty for unlawful arrest and intimidation of a commercial motorcyclist in the state.
In the suit number AK/5M/2017, two police officers, one Corporal Kehinde and Ajayi Adeboye of’A’ Division Police Station, Akure, were charged for extorting money from a commercial motorcyclist, Mr. Daniel Olorunyomi in 2016.
A human rights activist, Akinsola Akintan, took the case up under the aegis of Awareness Against Social Vices Initiative (AASVI), which intervened to effect the release of the confiscated motorcycle four days after.
Akintan, who demanded the sum of N1m as general damages,lamented that the respondents, Ajayi and Kehinde, usually sent officers to carry out indiscriminate and unlawful arrest of motorcyclists to extort money from them.
He told the court that Ajayi insisted that “before he would release the motorcycle, the 2nd respondent demanded for N3, 000 which was negotiated to N2, 500.”
The AASVI prosecutor said the conversation was recorded but he was not asked to make any statement or entry of events leading to the seizure of the motorcycle at the police station.
Akintan, who was also awarded N2, 000 cost in his favour, noted that the litigation was meant to check frequent harassment and intimidation of the general public by law enforcement agents, especially the police.
The Presiding Judge, Olanrewaju Akeredolu, while giving the final verdict declared that the arrest of the applicant on December 10,2016 and confiscation of his Haojue motocyle with registration number ABG 876 QE without any unjustifiable reason was unconstitutional.
Akeredolu added that the detention violated the rights of the applicant to freedom of movement, rights to personal liberty, rights to own property as enshrined in the provisions of Section 35, 41 and 44 of the Nigerian constitution, as amended.
He said: “I hereby order the respondents, jointly and severally to pay the sum of N250, 000.00 only as general damages for the unlawful and unconstitutional arrest of the applicant on December 10,2016 and detention/confiscation of the applicant’s Haojue Motocyle with Registration No. ABG 876 QE from the 10th December 2016 to 14th December 2016 without any justifiable reason.”