The police on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 prayed the Federal High Court, Lagos to compel Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, counsel to suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike also known as Evans, to pay a punitive cost of N300,000.
The Police want the lawyer to pay the cost for alleged wrongful service.
Evans, through Ogungbeje, had filed N300 million fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), alleging wrongful detention.
Joined as respondents in the suit are the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Commissioner of Police (COP) Lagos State and the Lagos State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as second, third and fourth respondents respectively.
The suit was stalled before Justice Abdulaziz Anka on July 20, following Ogungbeje’s failure to comply with a July 13order to pay the police N20,000 as costs.
However, at the commencement of proceedings yesterday, Ogungbeje informed Justice Anka that the cost was paid on August 10.
He said he had complied with the court’s order to serve the respondents and that the matter was ripe for hearing.
But counsel to the COP and SARS, Emmanuel Eze, opposed him.
Eze argued that Ogungbeje failed to serve IGP and NPF in Abuja as directed by the judge.
He said: “It is not true that the matter is ripe for hearing. This is a fundamental rights enforcement suit brought by the applicant.
“He has not got the leave of court for the matter to be heard during vacation. That is the condition precedent to hearing any matter during vacation.”
Relying on Section 215 of the Constitution and Order 5 Rule 8 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, Eze argued further that the COP Lagos State and the IGP were distinct personalities.
Ogungbeje, he stated, had only served the COP at Alagbon in Lagos but had yet to serve the IGP in Abuja.
He said: “Our submission is that he has not taken steps to clothe this court with jurisdiction to hear this case. Since Ogungbeje has refused to do the right thing, we are asking the court for costs of N300,000.”
In response, Ogungbeje maintained that the IGP and NPF were served on June 29 at the addresses contained on the originating motion and that the proof of service was in the court’s file.
He said: “Order 5 Rule 2 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules has made it clear that service on the respondents’ agents will amount to personal service on respondents.”
He argued that since Eze announced appearance for only the third and fourth respondents, he had no locus to speak for the IGP and The Police.
“He had no mouth to speak for the first and second respondents when there is proof of service.
“Lastly, this proceeding is sui generis (unique). As we speak, the applicant (Evans) is still in detention.”
He urged the court to discountenance Eze’s application for N300, 000 costs.
Justice Anka adjourned till Wednesday for ruling.
By Chinyere Obia