By Efe Onodjae
A woman, Mrs Ebere Okonkwo , has slammed a N100 million suit on the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba and the Commissioner of Police , Anambra State, Echeng Echeng, over alleged unlawful detention of her husband, a tricycle operator .
Mrs Okonkwo dragged the Police Chief and his lieutenant before the Federal High Court, Awka, Anambra State, contending that her husband, Chidubem Okonkwo, had been in Police custody for over six months without being charged to court.
The plaintiff in the suit said her husband being a member of the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria TOAN, Awka branch, Anambra State, was arrested on march 15, 2022 and paraded as a cultist .
She prayed the court to consider three issues for determination: “whether the defendants are right to have arrested, detained and kept the detainee in their custody since the 15th March, 2022 till date, without allowing the plaintiff and her two-year-old daughters access to their husband and father?
“Whether the defendants are right to have arrested, detained and kept the detainee in their custody, since the 15th March, 2022 till date, without charging him to court as required and provided for by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
“Whether if this court finds that the defendants have acted wrongly and contrary to the express provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), whether the court should make such orders and issue such directives to the defendants to forthwith produce the said MR. Chidubem Okonkwo for the purposes of releasing him forthwith and unconditionally to the plaintiffs?”.
She therefore, prayed the court for an order directing the defendants to forthwith produce Okonkwo and release him immediately and unconditionally to her and her daughter, as well as to direct the defendants to pay the total sum of N100,000,000 as “general damages for the illegal detention of Okonkwo and the wrongful deprivation of the rights of the Claimants to access and the consortium of their husband and father.
In addition, she asked the court to direct the defendants to pay the total sum of N2,000,000 as the cost of the claimants’ solicitor’s fee for the prosecution of this proceeding.
The suit which was supported with a 23-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Mrs. Okonkwo, detailing the ordeal of her husband, read in part, “ on the 15th Day of March, 2022 ,on the orders of Mr. Echeng Eworo Echeng, the 2nd defendant in this case, my husband was picked up by some police officers for an undisclosed offence while he was on duty at the park, in the presence of his colleagues and taken away to the state police command headquarters, Awka, Anambra State and detained indefinitely.
” I know that my husband was thereafter paraded on the 16th of March, 2022 in the presence of newsmen and the general public, which was widely recorded and publicized in the print and electronic media and the internet, with the then Commissioner of Police and Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga, the Police Public Relations Officer visibly present and in-charge and the video of the parade together with the publication could be downloaded with ease from the internet.
“That during the parade with some other suspects whom the 2nd defendant openly and excitedly referred to in his public broadcast as members of a cult group, my husband, Mr. Chidubem Okonkwo was seen throughout raising his hand in protest; that he was not a cult member and does not know anything about the allegation for which he was being paraded amongst others, which protest was dutifully ignored, and no reference was ever made to his exact offence”.