The bank driver was tortured and detained for 12 days without trial.
A High court in Oyigbo, Rivers State, has ordered the police and MainStreet bank to pay N5 million as damages to an ex-employee of the bank.
Justice Joseph Mbor, who gave the order on Monday in Oyigbo, said the arrest, detention and torture of the applicant, Success Amaefule, was unlawful.
He described the petition to the police by Nkiru Nnabuihe, former Eleme branch manager of the bank on which the applicant was arrested as “frivolous’’.
Mr. Mbor said that the statement of all the respondents were at variance but “embellished’’.
But the police, the bank branch manager and the bank had argued that the applicant threatened to kidnap the 4th respondent, Ms. Nnabuihe, and that he belonged to a secret cult.
The judge said that torture should not be an instrument of police investigation and wondered why police detained the applicant for 12 days.
He said the nearest court to the State Criminal and Investigation Department (SCID) was two kilometers away and decried police actions.
He said the police did not deny the alleged torture, but said it was the applicant’s “personal knowledge’’.
“The police played pranks by not disclosing where the applicant was arrested.”
“The police cannot walk into a bank and arrest a person without the bank knowing about it.”
“The bank and police should stop insulting the court’s intelligence,’’ Mr. Mbor said.
Mr. Mbor said the bank manager (fourth respondent) and the bank (fifth respondent) were responsible for the faith of the applicant at the SCID.
Mr. Amaefule, who was a driver to the bank, had told the court that he was arrested by the police in May and detained for 12 days and tortured.
He said that the Deputy Commissioner in charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) and his officers tortured him in the commissioner’s office.
Mr. Amaefule added that the torture was to force him to write a confessional statement that he threatened to kidnap the manager.
The trouble started when the applicant drove the manager to Sangana Street, Port Harcourt for official business, but forgot her hand bag in a shop.
He said that his boss accused him of stealing her hand bag from the car while she was away, called him a thief and raised an alarm that attracted a crowd.
Amaefule said that he would have been mobbed if it were to be in Aba, Abia state, due to the false alarm, adding that the bag was later found in one of the places the respondent transacted business.
He said that due to the false alarm that could have ended his life, he drove his boss to Olu Obasanjo Police Station for accusing him wrongly.
The ex-employee had demanded for N1million compensation for the damages done to his image and publication in the media to correct the impression.
He said that he was later suspended from work; his three months salaries seized; and he was arrested at the Aba road branch of the bank, having been called for settlement.
Ikwut-Ukwa Henry, counsel to the applicant, said that the judgment would help check police impunity.