Court Orders Police To Pay Charly Boy N50m Compensation

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A federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Hon Justice John Isoho last Monday ordered the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Commissioner of Police FCT command to pay the sum of N50 million and publish an apology in two national newspapers in favour of popular musician and activist, Mr Charles Oputa alias Charly Boy.
In the suit filed on the 29th of March 2018 by his lawyer and Human rights activist, Mr Inichehe Effiong to enforce his fundamental rights, the 67 year old popular musician gave a graphic account of how policemen numbering over 100 from the FCT police command invaded the unity fountain in Abuja on the 8th day of August 2017 and attacked him and his group with tear gas canisters, hot water canon and wild police dogs during the Resume of Resign protest when he led other activists to protest the long absence of the President Muhammadu Buhari from Nigeria on account of his medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK).
Charlyboy further narrated that the attack by the policemen was so severe that he collapsed in the process and was rushed to the hospital. He also stated that the police attacked them because of claims that their protests over the president’s absence which had exceeded 90 days on the second day of their daily sit out protest had gone international and brought serious embarrassment to the country.
Delivering judgement in the case marked as suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/343/2018 between Charles Oputa versus 19p and 2 others, Justice Tsoho held that there was no evidence that miscreants invaded or stormed the premises of the protest as alleged by the police.
On whether the applicant is entitled to stage the protest, the court held that protest in a constitutionally right provided it is done peacefully and that even if miscreants were on the scene to hijack the protest, the respondents possess enough security measures to dislodge such persons and maintain law and order.
The respondent (the police) need not exercise an uncommon aggression and mayhem to wade off alleged miscreants, Justice Tsoho said.
According to the court, the respondents andmitted in their counter affidavit that it was in the bid to protect members of the public and public properties from the miscreants who suddenly took over the protest that the men and officers of respondents had to use teargas, canisters and hot water canon in order to disperse the hoodlums, but that the respondents stated that the teargas and water canon were not directed at the applicant.
This assertion according to the court lacks substance as teargas circulates and affects all persons within the premises and the atmosphere generally affected which causes cough. The court found that the applicant has disclosed a reasonable cause of action against the respondents and that the respondents violated the fundamental human right of the applicant to dignity of human person, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association as enshrined in sections 34, 39 and 40 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The law is that the court has the right to grant redress to anyone whose right is violated and the applicant is entitled to remedy” said Justice Tsoho. Relief of the applicant is granted and the respondents are ordered to publish an apology to the applicant in two national newspapers for violating his fundamental human rights. The sum of N50 million is awarded against the respondents as general and exemplary damages.
The court also ordered perfect injunction against the respondents from violating the fundamental rights to dignity of the human person, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association.
Reacting to the judgement, the applicants counsel, Iniebehe Effiong described the judgement as a resounding victory for democracy, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the country. This judgement sends unequivocal message to the Nigerian police that they have no power to stop or disrupt peaceful protest by Nigerians.
The police by this judgement cannot invent flimsy excuses to stop citizens from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. I am highly elated by this victory for democracy” Effiong said.
Similarly, the national secretary of ‘Our Mumu Don Do’ movement commended Raphael Adebayo in a statement said that the judgement has raised the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary. The Our Mumu Don Do movement wishes to express satisfaction over the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja on the unprovoked attack on its members during the Resume or Resign protest.
This development is a sign that the Nigerian judiciary is indeed committed to upholding the supremacy of our country’s constitution. We also wish to thank Justice Tsoho for his sagacity in handling this case.