By Innocent Anaba
A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has ordered the Police and a Lagos-based businessman, Rapheal Obi, to pay N80 million to a clearing agent, Raphael Okonkwo, for illegal detention, torture and malicious prosecution.
Trial judge, Justice Candide-Johnson, who gave the order, held that the arrest, detention and subsequent prosecution of Okonkwo before an Igbosere Chief Magistrate’s Court for alleged theft of a 40-foot container containing goods valued at N36.4 million, was unlawful and malicious.
The court noted that the Police failed to conduct any credible investigation before proceeding with the prosecution of Okonkwo, describing the action of the Police as “a patent and blatant abuse of the enormous powers of criminal prosecution.”
The court held: “The entire investigation by the Police and the evidence given in this court was the reception of a petition in respect of the case, the arrest of the accused person and the taking of his statement.
“They did not give evidence of any investigation as to the theft of the container. Therefore, their evidence is of no use in determining the guilt or otherwise of Okonkwo.”
Okonkwo, who was discharged and acquitted by Chief Magistrate Akintunde Isaac, had, through his lawyer, Abang Mkpandiok, gone before Justice Candide-Johnson, seeking, among others, a declaration that his prosecution by the Police on the instigation of Raphael Obi was malicious and injurious and demanded N100 million as damages.
Justice Candide-Johnson, in his judgment, said he believed the submission of Abang Mkpandiok, counsel to Okonkwo, that the attack on his client by Rapheal Obi was to avoid payment of a N60 million indebtedness to Okonkwo and that it was Obi who arranged the movement of Okonkwo from the detention of the Police at the Special Fraud Unit, SFU, Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, to Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.