By Ben Ezeamalu
A federal judge in Lagos on Thursday, lashed out at the officers of the Lagos State Police Command for the unlawful arrest, detention as well as parade (before journalists), of an alleged Badoo sponsor, Alaka Abayomi.
Delivering the ruling at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Muslim Hassan, the judge, said Mr Abayomi’s detention beyond 24 hours without a court order was illegal.
Badoo is a criminal cult gang which, for most of last year, killed and maimed several residents of the Ikorodu area of the state.
In August, the police announced it had arrested Mr Abayomi at his Magodo residence following intelligence reports that he was working with the dreaded group.
But the suspect denied the allegations, accusing the police of humiliating and harassing him.
Mr Abayomi’s lawyer, Tunde Ojehomon, then filed a suit at the Federal High Court challenging his client’s arrest and detention for more than 24 hours.
Joined in three suit were the Inspector General of Police; Commissioner of Police in Lagos State; and Obot Umoh, a chief superintendent of police and member of the IGP Special Tactical Squad in Lagos.
In his ruling, the judge noted that despite evidence that the police were served with the suit and hearing notices, they did not show up in court to defend it.
“I can see that despite the hearing notice ordered by this court to be served on the respondents, no counter-affidavit was filed to controvert the claims of the plaintiff, which amount to an admission by the respondents,” Mr Hassan said.
“I have read and examined the relief and the affidavit of the applicant in the instant suit, which is not contradicted, and discovered that the detention of the plaintiff herein beyond 24 hours, without an order of court, is a breach of his fundamental rights enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
“I agree that the police cannot be prevented from carrying out their constitutional duty but this must be done within the purview of the law and the constitution.”
The judge, however, declined Mr Abayomi’s prayer to award exemplary damages of N500 million against the police.
He also declined his prayer that the court should order the police to “publish and furnish an unreserved apology to the applicant in four national daily newspapers and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp.”