A Federal High Court, Lagos on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 heard the N300 million fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans.
Justice Abdulaziz Anka, in a ruling, dismissed the objection filed by the police against the hearing of the application on the grounds that the Inspector-General of Police and the Nigeria Police Force were served with court papers in Lagos rather than in Abuja.
Justice Anka upheld the argument by Evans’ counsel, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, that,by virtue of Order 5 Rule 2 of the Fundamental Rights Procedure Rules 2009, the IG and the NPF were rightly served through their agents at Alagbon in Lagos.
The court also agreed with Ogungbeje that Mr. Emmanuel Eze, who appeared for the 3rd and 4th respondents in the case, had no right to speak for the IG and the NPF, which were joined in the suit as the 1st and 2nd respondents respectively.
The judge agreed that the coast was clear for the hearing of the suit on Wednesday, as there was proof of service on the IG and the NPF, which was exhibited before the court.
Eze’s bid to get an adjournment so as to go and prepare well for the hearing of the case also failed as Justice Anka held that the counsel has had enough time to prepare since June when the case was filed.
Arguing his client’s case, Ogungbeje insisted that the police had violated Evans’ rights by detaining him since June 10, 2017, without charging him to court.
Ogungbeje contended that the continued detention of Evans without a court order was unlawful and a violation of the suspect’s rights under sections 35 (1) (c) (3) (4) (5) (a) (b) and 36 of the Constitution.
He urged the court to compel the police to charge Evans to court immediately or to release him and let him go if they were not ready to bring him to court and arraign him.
But, opposing him, Eze, who appeared for the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, insisted that Evans’ rights were not being violated, because, according to him, Section 35(7) of the Constitution gave the police power to detain a suspected capital offender without any court order.
Besides, he argued that the offences allegedly committed by Evans were grievous and as such his fundamental rights were not absolute.
Eze said it would be premature for the police to either charge Evans to court for now or release him because the suspect was helping the police in investigations towards tracking down his gang members.
He said it would be dangerous to release Evans into the society.
Mr. Henry Obasi, who subsequently announced appearance for the IG and the NPF, pursued the same line of argument and urged Justice Anka to dismiss Evans’ suit.
But Ogungbeje urged the judge to discountenance the submission by Obasi, saying he did not file any court paper on behalf of the IG and the NPF.
Justice Anka adjourned till Tuesday, August 29, 2017, for judgment after listening to arguments from all parties.
By Chinyere Obia