REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW AS REGARDS THE EXERCISE OF THE POWERS OF THE POLICE TO MAKE AN ARREST

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CASE TITLE: UKPAI v. OMOREGIE & ORS (2019) LPELR-47206(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 5TH APRIL, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: ENFORCEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

LEAD JUDGMENT: HELEN MORONKEJI OGUNWUMIJU, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on Enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

FACTS

This is an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting at Benin delivered by Honourable Justice P.I. Ajoku on 20/9/2013.

​The Appellant/Cross-Respondent, a car dealer, alleged that he was arrested by the 2nd – 4th Respondents/Cross-Appellants because of the instigation made to them by the 1st Respondent that he stole her RAV-4 car. The allegation that led to the arrest of the Appellant/Cross-Respondent was premised on the allegation that the 1st Respondent saw her stolen car in the custody of the Appellant/Cross-Respondent. The Appellant/Cross-Respondent was thereafter arrested and taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department where it was revealed in a subsequent investigation carried out by the O.C anti-vehicle theft that a difference existed in the Chassis and Engine Number of the RAV-4 car found in the custody of the Appellant/Cross-Respondent who was a car dealer and that of the car of the 1st Respondent which was alleged to have been stolen by the Appellant/Cross-Respondent. Consequently, the Police discharged the Appellant/Cross-Respondent and dismissed the allegation against him.

​Thereafter, the Appellant/Cross-Respondent alleged that he suffered injury to his reputation which affected his business fortunes and exalted positions he held in the society. The Appellant/Cross-Respondent then filed an application for the enforcement of his fundamental right at the Federal High Court claiming some declaratory reliefs.

The learned Trial Judge found in favour of the Appellant/Cross-Respondent against only the 2nd – 5th Respondents at trial and ordered that the sum of Three Hundred Thousand Naira (N300,000.00) be paid to him as damages by the said 2nd – 5th Respondents at trial. Dissatisfied with the judgment, specifically the quantum of damages, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal. The 2nd – 5th Respondents also filed a Notice of Cross-Appeal wherein complaints were articulated against the merit of the judgment of the learned trial judge in its entirety.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The Court determined both the Appeal and Cross-appeal on these issues couched as follows:

  1. Whether the general damages awarded against the 2nd – 5th Respondents by the trial judge was adequate having regards to the injuries suffered by the Appellant on account of the acts of the 2nd – 5th Respondents.

And in the determination of the cross-appeal, I will crystallize the issues set forth in the 2nd – 5th.

  1. Whether it was proper for the learned Trial Judge to rely on all the affidavit evidence of the Appellant/Cross-Respondent in arriving at its decision.

DECISION/HELD

On the whole, the Court found merit in the main appeal and accordingly allowed same. The Court found no merit in the Cross-appeal and therefore dismissed same.

RATIOS:

  • CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- ENFORCEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT(S): Whether by the provisions of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, the Court can treat failure to file a process within the time allowed by the Rules as an irregularity
  • CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- ENFORCEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT(S): Whether leave must be sought and obtained for an applicant to file a further affidavit in an action for the enforcement of fundamental rights
  • COURT- DUTY OF COURT: Duty of Court to protect the fundamental rights of citizens
  • DAMAGES- AWARD OF DAMAGES: What the Court considers in awarding damages/compensation to a person for the deprivation of his right to personal liberty
  • POLICE- POWERS OF THE POLICE: Requirements of the law as regards the exercise of the powers of the police to make an arrest
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lawpavilion • April 30, 2019


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