Court awards N40m against El Rufai, Police over Audu Maikori’s “illegal detention”

The Federal High Court in Abuja Friday awarded N40 million cost against the Governor of Kaduna, Nasir El Rufai and, the Nigerian Police Force for ‘illegally detaining’ the Chief Executive Officer of Chocolate City Entertainment, Audu Maikori.

Highlights:

  • Justice John Tsoho upheld a fundamental rights enforcement suit Mr Maikori filed before the high court.
  • Respondents in the suit were the Inspector General of Police; Kaduna Commissioner of Police; Kaduna Governor, and the Attorney General of the state.
  • The court directed that the respondents should pay the money to the plaintiff as compensation and general damages, jointly and severally.
  • Maikori had in his suit challenged his arrest and detention by the police over a message he passed through his tweeter handle.
  • Out of 25 reliefs Mr Maikori sought before the court, only 14 were granted.
  • Justice Tsoho ordered the respondents, jointly and severally, to pay the applicant the sum of N10 million only as compensation for the violations of the applicant’s right to personal liberty as enunciated in Section 35(6) of the 1999 Constitution for the loss of his business earnings while in detention.
  • The court also ordered the respondents to pay jointly and severally, as general damages, the sum of N10 million only for injury to character, self-reputation, business reputation, esteem, proper feeling of pride of the applicant, his staff, management and the applicant’s other international business concerns.
  • Justice Tsoho directed the respondents to pay damages in the sum of N20 million only for injury to health, for medical bills being incurred by the applicant in treating himself and for psychological damage done on the applicant.
  • He further awarded N1,430 as cost of the suit, as well as, 10% interest per annum on damages until total and final liquidation of same.
  • The Judge, however, noted that following the tweet on the social media, Maikori made himself liable to be arrested, even though he realised that he was misinformed by his driver. He said: “I hold the respectful view that by virtue of his act, the applicant made himself liable to be deprived of his personal liberty” the court stated.
  • Justice Tsoho said, “The judgement will serve as a lesson to law enforcement agencies, they should discharge their duties in accordance with constitutional requirements, and not discharging their duties with impunity”.

Reminder: Mr Maikori was first arrested in Lagos on February 17, 2017, and detained for 24 hours in Abuja for allegedly posting “inciting” materials on the Internet.

The plaintiff had in the said tweet, alleged that some Southern Kaduna students were killed by Fulani herdsmen.

The tweet caught the attention of Mr El-Rufai who vowed to prosecute Mr Maikori for peddling falsehood he said was capable of worsening the security situation in Kaduna.

However, Maikori later apologised to the governor, saying he was misinformed by his driver. He was subsequently arrested, allegedly on the order of Mr El Rufai.

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