Court directs police to pay N50m in damages to MKO Abiola’s wife

Justice Modupe Osho-Adeniyi of an FCT in Gudu granted N50 million in damages to one of the late MKO Abiola’s wives, Prof Zainab Abiola, against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for violating her fundamental rights to dignity and personal liberty.

The judge awarded the money while giving judgment in a matter brought before the court by Abiola, designated FCT/HC/CV/2431/2023, and ordered the police to issue a public apology to the plaintiff in two national newspapers.

Oshi- Adebiyi ruled that arresting her in her nightgown without enabling her to dress appropriately is not only demeaning, but also violates her right to personal dignity.

The plaintiff had petitioned the court to enforce her fundamental human rights and named the IGP, the Nigeria Police Force, Inspector Teju Moses, and Engineer Ibrahim, a son of former IGP Usman Alkali Baba, as defendants in the complaint.

Prof Abiola claimed that in 2022, police officers stormed her Abuja home, arrested her while she was wearing a nightgown, and whisked her to the station, where she was held and tortured for three days without trial.

However, in urging the court to dismiss the litigation, the respondents stated that they knew nothing about the plaintiff.

They also stated that the claims she brought against them were unfounded.

The police alleged that on September 20, 2022, Abiola assaulted a female police officer, Inspector Teju Moses, as well as her (Abiola’s) domestic assistant, Rebecca Enechido, at her apartment in Abuja’s Garki district.

However, in the judgment, a Certified True Copy (CTC) reviewed by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Justice Osho-Adebiyi reprimanded the plaintiff’s three-day incarceration without being arraigned in court.

She argued that such behavior is a flagrant infringement of her right to personal liberty.

The judge also ruled that such behavior is improper and unconstitutional.

She, therefore declared that, ” that the detention of the Applicant from the 20th day of September 2022 to 23rd September 2022, without arraigning her before a court of competent jurisdiction is a violation of the Applicant’s right to personal liberty under Section 35 of the Constitution and is therefore unlawful and unconstitutional.

“It is further declared that the arrest of the Applicant by the Defendants in her nightgown without giving her the opportunity to dress decently is an infringement of her right to personal dignity.

“It is more debasing and a further Infringement of her right to personal dignity when Applicant was paraded in her nightgown.

“In the circumstances, the sum of N50,000,000.00 only is awarded to the Applicant as compensation against the 1st, 2nd and 4th respondents jointly.

“The respondents are hereby ordered to tender a public apology to the applicant in two of the national daily newspapers in pursuance of the provisions of Section 35 (6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

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