Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Andrew Amengheme and two of his men have been ordered to pay N6 million damages to a businessman, Mr. Okon Asuquo Ibanga for infringing his fundamental rights.
Akwa Ibom High Court in Uyo presided by Justice Ntong Ntong in its judgement delivered Monday held that “forcing the businessman to sign an undertaking to refund N1.7 million being the consideration for his own land is unlawful, opprobrious and unwholesome.”
Justice Ntong ordered the Commissioner of Police to pay the applicant N3 million while the first respondent, Supol Friday Ojomo is to pay N2 million and the third respondent, IPO Ekere Etim, N1 million.
The Court also set aside the undertaking which the Police forcefully extracted from the applicant to refund the proceeds of his land.
Justice Ntong said the Police knew that the case was a civil matter pertaining to the sale of land which was pending in the High Court, Uyo, but out of “greed and overzealousness, the Police officers molested and intimidated the applicant with arrest and detention.’’
Describing the act as “mischievous, malicious and fraudulent,” the court said the Police Officers compromised their statutory role and embarked on a florid journey of their own.
Justice Ntong held that by engaging in illegal act, the Commissioner of Police and his Officers, Supol Friday Ojomo and Mr. Ekere Etim has jointly and severally committed an infraction of the Law and become liable to the infringement of the fundamental rights of the applicant.
He ordered the Commissioner of Police and his men to issue a public apology to the applicant for intermeddling in a contractual transaction between civilian citizens.
The Court said Police should not in any community of civilized people be used or allowed to be used in a settlement of land disputes.
Justice Ntong held that there was no counter affidavit from the Police and their refusal to challenge the action has reduced his burden of stressing himself to make an elaborate appraisal of the case.
He said evidence before the Court is credible to the effect that the Police Officers abandoned their core duty and plummeted into abysmal level of becoming debt collector in a civil transaction between the applicant and one Mr. Emmanuel Okon Effiong and Mr. Uwem Edem Udo.