CASE TITLE: PROJECT ARCADE LTD & ANOR v. IGP & ORS (2022) LPELR-59127(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 13TH DECEMBER, 2022
PRACTICE AREA: CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
LEAD JUDGMENT: MUHAMMAD IBRAHIM SIRAJO, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on the enforcement of fundamental rights.
This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Lagos State on 23rd January 2018.
By an Originating Motion dated and filed on 19th December 2016, the Appellants as Applicants prayed for several orders enforcing the Applicant’s fundamental human rights and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents from threatening, harassing, intimidating, arresting or detaining the Applicants.
The case of the Appellants is that sometime in 2015, the 4th Respondent being an in-law to the 2nd Appellant, approached the 2nd Appellant requesting to invest in an ongoing dredging and land reclamation being undertaken by the Appellants. The 4th Respondent subsequently paid the sum of N12,000,000.00 (Twelve Million Naira) as part payment for two (2) plots of the waterlogged land. While the reclamation process was ongoing, the Appellants encountered some problems which allegedly occasioned delay in executing the project and delivering the purchased plots of land to the 4th Respondent.
It is the Appellants’ case that the 4th Respondent later demanded a refund of the sums earlier advanced to the Appellants owing to the Appellants’ failure to deliver the plots paid for by the Respondents, and when the Appellants refused to make the refund, the 4th Respondent deployed several means to harass the Appellants. Sometime in 2016, at the behest of the 4th Respondent, the 2nd Appellant was invited by operatives of the Force CID, Nigeria Police, Panti, Yaba, Lagos to answer to a petition submitted by the 4th Respondent for obtaining money under false pretences from the 4th Respondent.
Upon honouring the invitation, the 2nd Appellant was made to undertake that he would pay the outstanding sums due to the 4th Respondent in instalments before he was released at Panti, Yaba. While he was making effort to defray the indebtedness, the 4th Respondent caused another petition to be written to the office of the Capital Market Fraud Section of the Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, on the same subject matter alleging a similar case of obtaining by false pretences.
Acting on the said petition, operatives of the 3rd Respondent stormed the residence of the 2nd Appellant in his absence, with a view to arresting the 2nd Appellant. The Appellants claim that unless the Respondents are restrained, the Respondents will detain the 2nd Appellant in respect of a purely civil transaction.
The 1st – 3rd Respondents and the 4th Respondents filed their respective counter-affidavit and written addresses denying the allegation of breach of the Appellants’ fundamental rights. In a well-considered judgment, the trial Court found no merit in the Appellants’ suit and dismissed same.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the Appellants initiated the present appeal in the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
The Court determined the appeal based on a sole issue thus:
Whether the lower Court was right to have held that the Appellants failed to prove the allegations of infringement of their fundamental rights against the Respondents.
In the final analysis, the Court dismissed the appeal.
- EVIDENCE – BURDEN OF PROOF/STANDARD OF PROOF: Burden and standard of proof in an allegation of breach of fundamental human rights
- POLICE – DUTY OF POLICE: Whether the duty of the police includes the settlement of civil dispute or debt collection
- POLICE – DUTY OF POLICE: Duty of police to investigate allegations of crime
- POLICE – POLICE INVESTIGATION: Whether the powers of the police to investigate crime should/can be interfered with
- POLICE – POLICE INVESTIGATION: Effect where a report made to the police is made malafide
- POLICE – POLICE INVESTIGATION: Right of a citizen to report cases of commission of crime to the Police and duty of Police to investigate such; whether a complainant/informant can be held responsible for the result of a Police investigation