June 7, 2023

Court fines Navy N1m over illegal detention of vessel, crew members

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Justice T. Ringim of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has awarded N1 million against the Nigerian Navy, following the arrest and detention of one Oghenetega Asaboru and other crew members on board a vessel, MT Alexander J, in which the vessel and crew members have been detained since September 11, 2022.

Asaboru and other crew members on board the vessel, MT Alexander J, had dragged the Nigerian Nany and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to court over their unlawful arrest and illegal detention for over nine months.

In his judgment, Justice Ringim, while reviewing the case, established that the Nigerian Navy has held on to the occupied vessel, MT Alexander J, the applicant, and the crew for nine months, though they had consistently denied the allegation of the detention.

The court, referencing Sections 5, 34, 35, 36 and 46 of the Nigerian constitution, noted the rights of freedom and liberty of the applicants were fully infringed upon by the naval authority.

The judge established that in the review of all the evidence gathered by the council, the arrest of the vessel and occupant was effected by Lt CMD. Ismail Adamu, which led to the detention of the crew aboard the vessel, while even the EFCC, had written to the Nigerian Navy to release the men on board the vessel, as they were adjudged to be free.

In its verdict, the court held that the applicants’ detention from September 11, 2022, was is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and a violation of his right to liberty.

The court, hence, ordered for an immediate release of the applicants and the award of N1 million against the Nigerian Navy.