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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Illegal Detention: Court Awards N10m Damages Against Popular Archbishop, Frees Detainee


By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Anambra cleric and Founder of the Living Christ Mission, Rev. Onokogu Hezekiah, (popularly known as Daddy Hezekiah) has been ordered to pay a whopping sum of ten million naira (N10m) as fine for unlawful arrest of the Polaris Bank Manger, Dr. Hezekiah Duru.

The order was given in a judgment recently delivered by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, following a petition written by the latter, Dr. Duru over alleged financial misappropriation and breach of trust, which resulted in his arrest and detention under police custody.

According to sources, the applicant, Dr. Duru, had been unlawfully arrested and detained under the instruction of Daddy Hezekiah and through the directive of the Nigeria Police Force with whom the actions were carried out.

However, delivering a judgement on the case, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/3/2024, Justice D. Okorowo of the Federal High Court faulted the actions of Daddy Hezekiah and the Nigeria Police Force who are both the respondents, and held that the actions imply a denial of the fundamental human right of the applicant, as the allegation was already being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the action.

The Federal High Court Judge also faulted the warrant order earlier obtained from the Nasarawa State Magistrate Court, describing it as unlawful, abuse of powers, abuse of judicial process and an infringement of the Applicant’s right to fair hearing, and personal liberty.

The Court holds as follows: “A declaration is made that the arrest, detention and purported investigation of the Applicant from the 11th day of December 2023 till 29th day of December 2023 by the Respondents on the petition of the 1st Respondent on an allegation of financial misappropriation/embezzlement/cheating/breach of trust already being investigated is an infringement of the Applicant’s right to personal liberty, fair hearing, right to dignity of his person as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“A declaration is made that the order/warrant for the detention of the Applicant obtained by the Respondents from the Nasarawa State Magistrate Courts is unlawful, abuse of powers, abuse of judicial process and an infringement of the Applicant’s right to fair hearing, and personal liberty.

“An Order is made directing the release of the Applicant, Amb. Dr. Hezekiah Chinenye Duru forthwith from Police custody.

“An Order of injunction is made restraining the Nigerian police and it’s officers from arresting, detaining or further violating or doing anything capable of undermining, threatening or interfering on the fundamental rights of the Applicant, His Excellency Amb. Dr. Hezekiah Chinenye Duru.

“An award of 10 Million Naira Damages jointly and severally against Rev. Onukogu and the Nigeria Police, the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police and ACP Asuqou (the officer in Charge of the Special Investigation Unit of the IGP office).”

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