A Delta State High Court sitting in Orerokpe in Okpe Local Government Area has awarded the sum of Three Million Naira as punitive damages against the Police for allegedly breaching the fundamental human rights of a forty years old Chartered Account, Irhirhi Edesiri.
The Court presided over by Hon. Justice Joe Egwu in Suit Number: HOR/ FHR/4/2018 found the Policemen guilty of the Offence.
The Court also ordered the police to pay the claimant additional Twenty-Five thousand naira to offset his legal cost.
The Judgement is coming after the claimant was remanded at the Prison in Sapele for seventeen days in addition to humiliation meted on him.
Counsel to the Claimant, Barr. Kunle Edun hailed the Court judgement saying,”This judgment has further emphasized that the fundamental rights of Nigerians must at all times be respected by Policemen and other security agencies.
Barr. Edun who is the Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Warri Chapter said,”The fact that the judgment heavily condemned the rampant practice of extortion of monies from motorists by Policemen on our roads should give Nigerians the courage to report cases of bribery and extortion by Policemen. The Claimant was bold to video the act of Policemen extorting money from motorists.”
While speaking to journalists, the Claimant narrated his ordeal with the Police as well as how the incident occurred on 27th December 2017.
Edesiri who is married with three kids said he was on his way from Warri to his house along Oha junction near Orerokpe Community when a team of Policemen stopped their vehicle and one of them(police) demanded money from the driver.
Edesiri stressed that the incident caused an argument between the driver and the police.
He noted that the passengers including himself pleaded with the police to let the vehicle go but it fell on deaf ears.
Edesiri claimed that driver agreed to path with money but at the point the money was being handing the Five Hundred Naira (N500) to the police, he was incidentally browsing with his mobile phone.
In his words, “When the policeman saw me holding my phone, he probably thought I was recording it. So he came to me and asked why I was recording (video) him. Before I could tender a reply, he slapped me and started dragging me.
“Eventually, he called three to join him telling them that I was recording (video) him when he was collecting the money from the driver.
“The rest got angry and join him in beating hell out of me. They order the driver and rest of the passengers to leave. Beating continue. I even thought I will die.
“They handcuffed me and took me to a police station along Benin/Sapele road. This frightened me.
Edesiri also claimed that the police threatened to kill him and throw his dead body away.
Edesiri further claimed that he was stripped naked at the Police Station by the Police who he gave their names as Insp. Salaco Julius, Sgt. Ikechukwu Paul and Sgt. Andrew Aruoture (IPO) in charge of the matter amongst others.
He added that he was denied him access to call his relatives for two days.
According to him,”That period, my wife travelled to Benin. So, nobody to know am at the Station for two days. They took me to Court without telling me. They forced me to write statement the way they want it, not the way I want it. I was remanded in Prison because nobody to bail me in Court. I stayed in prison for seventeen days at Sapele.
Edesiri noted that a friend introduced him to Barr. Kunle Edun, Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Warri Chapter.
Edesiri commended the legal practitioner for filing a fundamental rights breach Suit against the police on his behalf as well as for the victory.
“It was the Suit Barr. Kunle Edun filed that took some shame off me lamenting that,” When I returned from prison i was ashamed because they naked ne before some women to see penis.
“Barr. Kunle Edun did not collect money from me. He only asked me to pay for filing cost which which makes it easier for me.
“I really appreciate his efforts towards human rights issue. He is not a lawyer that takes money first. I see him as the Gani Fawehinmi of Warri.
“To the Judge, he provides an avenue that the Court is the last hope of the common man. God bless them all.
More of these awards will put the Police in check. The public should be encouraged to report issues of breach of their fundamental rights to the appropriate quarters.