An Akwa Ibom State High Court in Uyo has awarded N40 million damages against the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
Justice Nsemeke Daniel gave the ruling in a suit filed by an Uyo-based businessman, Ubong Williams, challenging his illegal arrest and detention by the commission.
The court in suit number: HU/FHR.67/2021, held that Williams’ arrest, torture, harassment and intimidation by operatives of the ICPC was illegal and an infringement on his fundamental rights as provided in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
It also held that the detention of the applicant for 22 days from March 18, 2021 to April 8, was illegal, unlawful and an infringement on his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the constitution.
The court also ruled that the notice of seizure the ICPC issued to freeze Williams’s account in a second generation bank was illegal, unlawful and an infringement on his right of interest in a movable property.
It, therefore, ordered the ICPC to withdraw the notice of seizure dated March 25, 2021 on William’s account and nullified the post-no-debit placed on the account.
“The respondents are hereby restrained by an order of perpetual injunction, either by themselves, agents, servants or privies from further arresting, harassing, intimidating and detaining the applicant in any manner whatsoever in connection with the subject matter of this suit.”
“That N40 million damages is awarded against the respondent for the infringement of the applicant’s fundamental rights,” the court order reads.
Williams, a consultant with the Akwa Ibom State Government was arrested in a similar by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for which he had also gone to court.
ICPC operatives led by the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner, Shola Shodipo, had arrested Williams at his office on March 18, 2021 and took him to Abuja where he was detained for two weeks without trial.
But in an ex-parte motion filed on behalf of Williams by his lawyer, Andem Andem in Suit Number: HU/FHR.67/2021, the applicant prayed the court to hold that ICPC’s action as a violation of his fundamental rights.
In the suit, the ICPC, its Director of Operations, Akem Lawal and Shodipo were listed as first, second and third respondents, respectively.
While objecting to the detention of his client, Andem argued that ICPC failed to inform Williams of the particular offence for which he was arrested.
But ruling on the application, Daniel, ordered that the applicant shall be released from detention forthwith pending the determination of his application for enforcement of fundamental rights in this court.
Despite the court order, the ICPC detained Williams till April 8, 2021, when Chairman of the commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, approved his release.