Court dismisses N500m assault suit against Akwa Ibom Speaker, IGP, DSS

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By Esseh Ikora, Uyo 

Justice Fatun Riman of the Federal High Court 2, sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, yesterday, dismissed a fundamental human  rights enforcement suit against the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Onofiok Luke.

Joined in the suit were the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Commissioner of Police (CP), Akwa Ibom State Command.

The Chairman of the Eket branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Emmanuel David Udo, had formally sued the respondents, for alleged assault and breach of his fundamental human rights.

Narrating his ordeal in the hands of the security aides attached to the Speaker including the DSS and the Police,  Udo recalled that “I was severely manhandled and tortured when Luke’s convoy ran into my car in a crowded scene along the Uyo-Ibesikpo road, on my way to Eket with my family”.

He alleged that “my car ran into a crowd of mourners along the road and because of heavy traffic hold-up, I could not immediately give way for the Speaker’s convoy to have easy passage.

“Suddenly security aides to the Speaker comprising the Police and members of the Department of State Services (DSS) dragged me out of my car and severely dealt with me severely. I was physically assaulted under the supervision of the Speaker himself”, he narrated.

He told the court that though the incident occurred in 2016, the injury he sustained on his spinal cord prevented him from seeking a redress on the matter until now.

“Now that I am well and able to withstand the rigours of pursuing the enforcement of my fundamental human rights I am here to get Justice. He added.

In the originating motion on notice (FHC\UY\CS\119\2017), Mr. Luke, Mr. Courage Noguese, the DSS Director; Mr. Muazu Zubairu, the then Commissioner of Police and Mr. Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, were listed as 1st, 2nd, 3rd,4th and 5th respondents in the matter.

In his written address, Inibehe Effiong, Counsel to Udo, is seeking to determine whether the assault and torture meted by the accused persons on his client, amount to “a breach on the applicant’s fundamental human rights to dignity of his human person as guaranteed in section 34(1) (a) of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution (as mended), as well as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights”.

The Court would have the onus of also determining whether Luke and his security aides violated his client’s fundamental rights of freedom of movement and from discrimination as guaranteed by relevant sections of the Constitution (1999) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, amongst others.

The Court, according to counsel to the plaintiff, Inibehe Effiong, a Lagos based human rights lawyer, was to established whether Luke and his security aides had fallen foul of the law, against his client and sought damages amounting to N100million as well as additional N400million as exemplary damages.

But the presiding Judge, Justice Fatun Riman, in a ruling that lasted for about two hours yesterday, struck out the case for want of merit, pointing out that the petitioners failed to prove their case beyond every reasonable doubt.

 Counsels to Luke, Comrades Ekemini Udim and Ini Ememobong of the Justice Chambers hailed Justice Riman judgement, noting that he (the Judge) painstakingly assessed the merit of the matter and dispensed of it dispassionately.

According to them, the case was already dead on arrival, following the detection of technical flaws and other discrepancies, which did not reflect the true character of the Speaker as “a humane and compassionate leader”.

“The Court exonerated the Speaker because the applicants was not able to demonstrate beyond every reasonable doubt that the Speaker committed the offense for which he alleged in the matter”, they said and asked for an open apology to Mr. Luke.

However, Counsel to the petitioner, Inibehe Effiong, described the ruling as a miscarriage of justice and vowed to appeal after a careful study of the particulars of the judgment.

“Impunity must not be allowed to become a culture in Akwa Ibom State”, he warned.

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