Oyerinde’s murder: Nigeria police appeal at Supreme Court against N5mn damages to activist

Mr. Ugolor was detained for several months in 2012.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, have appealed last month’s ruling of the Court of Appeal in Benin City which ordered the payment of N5 million as damages to David Ugolor, over his illegal detention by the police.

Following the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, the then Principal Private Secretary to the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, the police had arrested and detained Mr. Ugolor for several months in 2012 after the police boss ordered investigation into the murder.

The police justified its action with the allegation that one of the suspects had mentioned Mr. Ugolor in detention as the prime sponsor of the crime, which took place in the victim’s residence on May 4.

When the matter was brought before the Benin Chief Magistrates’ Court, Justice Esther Edigin ordered that the activist be discharged and acquitted of complicity in the charge of robbery and murder, with an award of N5 million damages against the police and Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, for illegal detention.

In the appeal filed by the police, the Court of Appeal, Benin City, presided over by Justice Helen Olagumwumiju, struck out the stay of execution filed by counsel to the police and the AGF, and upheld the judgment of the lower court, giving the police boss two months to pay the damages.

However, the police has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court demanding an order setting aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal and granting an unconditional and perpetual stay of execution of the judgment of the High Court.

Curiously, the Supreme Court, in the Notice of Appeal No: CA/B/360/12, filed by Henry Michael-Ihunde of J. K. Gadzama Chambers of Abuja, listed Mr. Ugolor and the attorney general as respondents.

In the notice, counsel to the police boss and the police offered three grounds of disapproval to justify the appeal against the decision of the appellate court.

Citing error in law, Mr. Michael-Ihunde noted the court erred in law when it ordered the Inspector General and the police to pay N5 million within 60 days, while rejecting their appeal knowing that as statutory government agencies they are not buoyant enough to pay the judgment sum, adding that the judgment was against the weight of evidence.

But, Mr. Ugolor told PREMIJM TIMES in a telephone interview from his base in Benin City, Edo State that the decision of the police boss to go to the Supreme Court is a ploy to buy time and delay justice for the oppressed.

“We are convinced that the Nigeria Police Force have come to the end of the tunnel. We are encouraged by the lessons and belief that any attempt to delay justice will not be allowed by the Nigeria Judiciary of today, which is always the last hope of the oppressed,” Mr. Ugolor, the Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, said.

“The police are wasting tax payers’ limited resources to pursue a case that the IGP and the Nigeria Police Force know they cannot win. After more than nine months, the police have not been able to fault our claim that I was dubiously framed to shield the real killers of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde.

“We have absolute confidence in the Judiciary and we are hopeful as ever to get justice any time, any day, because the police cannot eat its cake and have it anywhere in the world. As an organization, the human rights community is determined to end the culture of impunity in the Nigeria Police and any sector of our society,” he added.

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