Justice Rachael Boyede Akintola of Court 4, Oyo State High Court, has awarded a sum of N150, 000 as damages and costs against a former Divisional Police Officer, Iyaganku, Ibadan, CSP Alex Gwazah, for violation of rights of a fashion designer, Lukman Adeniyi.
Justice Akintola, who delivered the judgment on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, ruled that the act of the former DPO, who is the first respondent, was unlawful in respect of the things he did to the applicant.
The court awarded N50, 000 as damages against Gwazah, while N100, 000 was awarded in favour of the applicant.
But no award was brought against the second respondent, who is the State Commissioner of Police.
Counsel to the applicant, Barrister Mohammed Jubril, had filed a motion on notice, in which Adeniyi applied for an order for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights to personal liberty and dignity.
The applicant sought for an order to protect him against torture and inhuman treatment, as enshrined under Sections 34(1)(a) and 35(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The motion on notice also sought, among others, a declaration “that the arrest, interrogation, assault, torture and detention of the applicant by the first respondent on the 1st day of November, 2020, based on a baseless and false allegation that applicant destroyed the clothes he gave him for sewing, is illegal, unconstitutional, and a gross violation of the applicant’s rights to his dignity and personal liberty, as guaranteed under Sections 34(1)(a) and 35(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, and Articles 5 and 6 of the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act) Cap A9 LFN, 2004.”
In an affidavit, Adeniyi swore an oath on how he was contacted by the DPO to sew clothes for him, but ended up being physically assaulted, detained in the cell and arraigned in court over accusation that he (Adeniyi) damaged his clothes.
He added that the charge was eventually struck off by a magistrate sitting over Court 8, at Iyaganku Magistrates’ Court, Ibadan, Mrs. Olajumoke Akande, for want of diligent prosecution.
This, the applicant said, was because the first respondent did not attend court proceedings the two times the matter came up for hearing.
The first respondent also pointed out in the affidavit that Gwazah failed to pay him his professional fee of N60, 000, which he legitimately earned through mutual agreement, despite several demands.
He explained further in the affidavit that he was brutalized and made to suffer humiliation, which signified an abuse of office by the first respondent.
He stated that since the matter was struck off the magistrate court’s list, he had been receiving threats from the first respondent on his re-arrest and being dealt with, unless he dropped his demand for payment of professional fee.
This, Adeniyi said, had made him to abandon his work place at Oke Bola area of the city.
He added that the second respondent had refused to take any step on the matter, despite the fact that he wrote a letter of complaint through his lawyer.
But Justice Akintola did not grant any award of damages against the second respondent, as she ruled that the second respondent could not be vicariously liable to act on the first respondent, because all he did were of his own volition.
It will be recalled that the former DPO arraigned Adeniyi in court on November 3, 2020, accusing him of malicious damage of his clothes worth N181, 000, which he gave Adeniyi to sew in September.
Gwazah claimed that though Adeniyi delivered the sewn 12 pieces of clothes to him, they were made by his apprentice, which was against their agreement.
But the fashion designer said that the DPO slapped him the day he went to deliver the 12 sewn materials to him, on the allegation that the clothes were not well sewn.
The fashion designer further stated that the DPO, after slapping him, still collected all the 12 materials without paying him any money.
On Saturday, November 1, Adeniyi said that the DPO told him to come for the money he was to be paid, only for him to be detained on Gwazah’s orders after another hard slap, which made him shed tears on how he was being treated.
He was released on bail on Monday, November 2, before he was charged to court the following day.
It was learnt that Gwazah was redeployed from Iyaganku Division to Quick Intervention Unit as the head, after the initial detention and arraignment of the fashion designer and the furore it raised.