By The Evangelist News edition, Friday, January 12, 2024.
The Uyo Division of the High Court in Akwa Ibom State has ruled that Policewoman Inspector, Iniobong Umoren, must pay a commercial tricycle operator, Jeremiah Sunday Udo, the sum of N5 million for his unlawful arrest and seizure of his tricycle (Keke).
Udo claimed to have acquired the tricycle through a hire purchase deal amounting to N1.9 million.
The court heard that Inspector Umoren detained the petitioner for five days without access to food and water.
Justice Ntong Ntong, presiding over the case, gave the order on Thursday in response to an application for the enforcement of fundamental rights brought by the applicant, Udo, a resident of Ikono Local Government Area.
The learned Justice also ruled that the first respondent, Mr. Udoka David, a friend of the tricycle rider, should pay an additional N5 million for instigating the Police to arrest and detain Udo for five days without providing food and water.
The Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Police Command, Mr. Olatoye Durosinmi, who was joined in the suit as the third respondent, was excluded from the case, with the court advising him to ensure that his officers and men carry out their duties within the bounds of the law.
Udo, who resides in Ifa Ikot Idang village in Uyo LGA, informed the court that he had been fulfilling the hire purchase agreement with the tricycle’s owner, Mr. Udoka David, from a neighbouring village in Ikono LGA. He claimed that he owed a week’s return of N20,000 due to economic challenges caused by the Naira policy.
The tricyclist asserted that he was unexpectedly ambushed and arrested on February 12, 2023, despite having paid N885,000 out of the N1.9 million agreed upon in the hire purchase agreement for full ownership of the tricycle.
In a one-hour judgement, Justice Ntong questioned why Inspector Iniobong Umoren quickly impounded the tricycle and handed it over to the first respondent without a court order, which has the power to interpret the terms of hire purchase agreements and enforce them.
The Court held that; “the first respondent, Mr. Udoka David, took the law into his hands and lured the Policewoman, who also allowed herself to be led into jettisoning the rule of law using the name of Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police to authenticate her unlawful act,” which the Court viewed as “satanic, nefarious and unwholesome antics against the applicant.”
“Because of greed, Inspector Iniobong Umoren usurped the role of the Court and became a law unto herself” adding that “having encroached on the fundamental rights of the keke man, the law is there to protect the tricyclist from heartless people like Inspector Iniobong Umoren and Mr. Udoka David,” the Court held.
Delivering the judgement, the Judge said: “I have read all the processes filed by the parties and discovered that the evidence and documents including the bail bond, the petition and the statements exhibited by the first and second respondents, are doctored and fabricated to mislead the Court.”
“Inspector Iniobong Umoren and Mr. Udoka David in the name of God Almighty, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Inspector General of Police to release forthwith, the applicant’s tricycle pending when a Court of competent jurisdiction will order otherwise under the hire purchase agreement,” the Court stressed.