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Court Orders Police To Pay N50m For Arresting Abiola’s Widow In Nightgown

The Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gudu, Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the Inspector-General of Police to pay N50m damages to the widow of the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola, Prof Zainab Abiola, for violating her fundamental rights by arresting and parading her while wearing only a nightgown.

The court, in the judgment that was delivered by Justice Modupe Osho-Adebiyi, also ordered the police to apologise to her in two national newspapers.

Abiola had filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2431/2023 against the IG, the Nigeria Police Force, Inspector Teju Moses and Engineer Ibrahim (son of former IGP Usman Alkali Baba) as co-defendants.

She alleged that police officers in 2022 invaded her residence in Abuja and arrested her while she was wearing a nightgown and whisked her to the station.

She told the court that she was detained and tortured for three days without trial.

However, the respondents, while urging the court to dismiss the suit, claimed that they did not know her, insisting that the allegation she raised in the suit was false.

In the Certified True Copy of the judgment sighted by Punch on Thursday, Justice Osho-Adebiyi held that the detention of Abiola by the defendants without arraigning her in a court of competent jurisdiction was a gross violation of her right to personal liberty.

“It is hereby declared that the detention of the applicant from the 20th day of September 2022 to the 23rd of September 2022, without arraigning her before a court of competent jurisdiction is a violation of the applicant’s right to personal liberty under Section 35 of the constitution and is therefore unlawful and unconstitutional.

“It is further declared that the arrest of the applicant by the defendants in her nightgown without giving her the opportunity to dress decently is an infringement of her right to personal dignity. It is more debasing and a further infringement of her right to personal dignity when the applicant was paraded in her nightgown.

In the circumstances, the sum of N50,000,000.00 only is awarded to the applicant as compensation against the first, second and fourth respondents jointly.

“The respondents are hereby ordered to tender a public apology to the applicant in two national daily newspapers in pursuance of the provisions of Section 35 (6) I of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”

The police had accused Abiola of assaulting a female police officer, Inspector Teju Moses.

She was alleged to have assaulted the policewoman alongside her domestic staff, Rebecca Enechido, at her residence in the Garki area of the FCT on September 20, 2022.

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