An Abuja High Court situated at Gudu issued an order directing the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, to pay the sum of N50 million to Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola, the wife of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola, for violating her fundamental rights.
The court, in the judgment delivered by Justice Modupe Osho-Adebiyi, further directed the police authority to tender an apology to Prof. Abiola in two national dailies.
The judgment followed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit brought before the court by Abiola’s wife.
Respondents in the suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/2431/2023 were the Inspector General of Police; the NPF itself; Inspector Teju Moses, as well as one Engineer Ibrahim identified as the son of a former IGP, Usman Akali Baba.
Prof. Abiola alleged in her suit that police officers invaded her residence in Abuja in 2022, arresting her while she was wearing a nightgown and whisked her to the station.
She informed the court that she was detained and tortured for three days without trial.
According to the Applicant, she slept at the police station from September 20 to September 23, 2022.
Prof. Abiola maintained that the unconstitutional action taken against her by the police amounted to a gross violation of her fundamental rights.
She prayed the court to compel the police to pay her damages to the tune of N500 million, among other things.
However, the Respondents challenged the competence of the suit, urging the court to dismiss it for lack of merit.
The Respondents claimed that they did not know Prof. Abiola, insisting that the allegation she raised in the suit was false.
Determined to prove her case, the Applicant tendered before the court documentary evidence to establish that the police had earlier appointed her as a Chief Legal Consultant, CLC.
While delivering judgment in the matter, Justice Osho-Adebiyi stated that the court was convinced that Prof. Abiola’s rights were trampled upon by the police.
“It is hereby declared that the detention of the Applicant from the 20th day of September, 2022 to 23rd 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 Applicant was paraded in her nightgown. In the circumstances, the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) only is awarded to the Applicant as compensation against the 1st, 2nd and 4th Respondents, jointly".