A Benin High Court, presided over by Justice Esther Edigin, today awarded five million Naira to Reverend David Ugolor for the violation of his fundamental human rights by the Nigeria Police. The damage was awarded against the Inspector General of Police.
Delivering her ruling, Justice Esther Edigin held that the Nigeria Police had no reasonable suspicion to arrest Ugolor, recalling that it was only because one of the suspects in police custody had named one
“David” as their sponsor that he was arrested.
The judged held that that action by the Police violated Ugolor’s right to liberty and thus awarded the damages.
Justice Edigin warned that the impunity with which the police disobeyed the order of a court of competent jurisdiction is an invitation to anarchy, at the very least. She lambasted the attitude of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, toward court orders and the rule of law, and stressed that blatant disobedience of the rule of law by the IGP sends a dangerous signal and threatens the human right situation in Nigeria.
Justice Edigin underlined that the detention of Rev. Ugolor beyond two days was illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and a violation of his fundamental human rights, and she restrained the Nigeria Police from further arresting Rev. Ugolor on the matter. The learned Justice then concluded her ruling by awarding N5m damages in favour of Ugolor.
In a comment, Barrister Osaro Osemwegie, one of Rev Ugolor’s counsels, stated, “With this ruling, the Edo State Judiciary has once again demonstrated that the rule of law is supreme and that all persons and authorities are subject to it.”
He observed that it is only a society governed by the rule of law that can enjoy peace and progress, warning that the only alternative to that is anarchy.
“To all of us, this historic judgment is victory to the growth of the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the police in Edo State arraigned Rev. Ugolor before a Benin Magistrate Court. He and nine others had been arrested in connection with the murder of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, the late Personal Secretary to the Executive Governor of Edo State.
On two prior occasions, a High Court in the Edo State capital had ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), to release Rev. Ugolor from detention immediately and unconditionally, but those orders were ignored.
The 10 men faced a variety of charges that bordered on conspiracy, murder, armed robbery, illegal possession of arms and receiving stolen property.