Apology To Gbagi, Court Orders IG of Police, Mohammed Ali, Hafiz Inuwa, Delta Attorney General
… Respondents To Jointly Pay N100 Million Fine
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, Delta State Commissioner of Police, Ari Muhammed Ali, his predecessor, Hafiz Muhammed Inuwa and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Delta State to publish an unreserved apology through ThisDay Newspapers and Daily Sun for violating the rights of the former minister of education and leading governorship aspirant in the state, Olorogun Barr. Kenneth Gbagi.
The Court also ordered the Respondents in suit No. FHC/ABJ/1267/2020, to jointly and severally pay the applicant, Gbagi, the sum of One Hundred million Naira, (N100, 000, 000.00).
The presiding judge, Hon. Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo in a judgement delivered on the 8th of March 2022, disclosed that “this suit is premised on an application by the applicant for an order of Enforcement of his Fundamental Rights brought pursuant to Section 34(1), 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41(1), 44 and 46(1) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as altered), Articles 4, 6, 7, 11, 12 and 14 of the African Charter on the human and people’s rights (ratification and Enforcement) act, cap a9 laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004.
According to the Judgement, Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo, said: “I have gone through the affidavit in support of the amended origination summons. I noted that the legal opinion is dated the 12th day of October 2020 after the order of the Court made against the 1st and 2nd respondents before the 3rd and 4th respondents were made parties to this action.
“The law is Trit that while a matter is in Court, the parties ought to stay all actions in the matter especially where there is a pending order of the Court in favour of the applicant. Why did the 2nd and 3rd respondents rushed the police case file to the office of the 4th respondent leading to the legal advice issued by the office of the DPP, Delta State, indicting the applicant? It is”.
He expressed worry that after the Court issued an order that the applicant should not be arrested and/or detained during the pendency of this suit, the 2nd and 3rd respondents being the office and the occupier of the office respectively, declared the applicant wanted and this can be seen in exhibit B attached to the affidavit in support. The applicant also attached exhibit C which is the charge sheet before the Magistrate Court, sitting in Effurun, wherein certain persons where charged to Court for stealing on the complaint of them management of the hotel owned by the applicant.
“The arraigned persons are the same persons on whose behalf petitions were purportedly sent to the 2nd respondent by some civil society groups alleging the infraction of their Rights by the applicant. The case of stealing curiously was withdrawn by the police despite protestations from the counsel for the nominal complainant in the case for the Defendants who were accused of stealing were discharged”, referring to exhibit D in the affidavit of the applicant.
He continued: “It is my finding that due to the lack of confidence in the way that the 2nd and 3rd respondents were handling the matter that prompted the applicant’s solicitors to write to the 1st Defendant. I note exhibit F, the cover page of the Bill which the applicant alleged was passed retrospectively in order to cause the applicant to be charged under that law.
He said for the 1st and 3rd respondents, “I have gone through the counter affidavit filed on their behalf. The 1st – 3rd respondents acted on petitions said to have been received by civil societies organizations who alleged that the applicant molested and dehumanized three females and one male. These are exhibits A1-A6. The applicant was alleged to have ordered that the said persons be stripped naked and their bud pictures taken by the applicant’s son and that the pictures were posted on the internet.
“I have also looked at the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the 4th Defendant by one Kemi Esene, a counsel in the law firm of the counsel to the 4th Defendant. She was stated to have received her information from Peter Mrakpor SAN who at that time was the Attorney General of Delta State. I find the averment of paragraph 3(1) of the counter affidavit evasive and contradictory when compared to other paragraphs and documents before the Court
“The deponent to the counter affidavit deposed to facts not within her knowledge without stating from whom she derived the information from. How can the 4th Defendant deny that he does not know who owns the hotel when it was stated in the legal advise in exhibit HAG 6 that the applicant is the chairman and owner of signature Hotel and Suites.
“I therefore grant prayers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as prayed having be proved by the applicant. With regards to prayers 7 and 8. I am of the well considered view that an apology in ThisDay Newspapers and Daily Sun by the respondents severally will suffice. I shall therefore not make any order for monetary compensation in the circumstances of this case. This is the judgement of the Court”.
Justice Taiwo also referred to the judgement of a High Court sitting in Effurun, Delta State, that had dismissed infringement suit, seeking the enforcement of fundamental rights filed by Okiemute Diaghwarhe against Olorogun Barr. Kenneth Gbagi, a 2023 governorship hopeful.
Justice Emmanuel Z. Dolor, of the Effurun High Court had said on Monday July 26, 2021, that the suit with Reg. No. EHC/FHR/79/2020, lacked merit, and could not hold water.