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Court orders police to pay tricyclist N5m for unlawful arrest

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An Akwa Ibom State High Court has issued a verdict compelling Police Inspector Iniobong Umoren to pay tricyclist Jeremiah Sunday Udo the sum of N5 million for an unlawful arrest and seizure of his tricycle, acquired through a hire purchase agreement for N1.9 million. 

The judgment, pronounced by Justice Ntong Ntong on Thursday, arose from an application seeking the enforcement of fundamental rights, initiated by Udo.

Justice Ntong expressed, “Inspector Iniobong Umoren quickly impounded the tricycle and handed it over to the first respondent without an order of court, which has the power to interpret the terms of hire purchase agreements between parties and enforce its terms and conditions.” 

The judge questioned the legitimacy of Umoren’s actions, emphasizing the court’s role in overseeing such agreements.

In addition to Umoren’s compensation order, the court mandated Udoka David, a friend of the tricycle rider, to pay Udo an additional N5 million. This was in response to allegations that David instigated the police to arrest and detain Udo for five days without provisions for food and water.

While the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olatoye Durosinmi, initially included as the third respondent, was exempted from the ruling, the court advised him to remind his officers to conduct their duties within legal boundaries. 

The judge stated, “Because of greed, Inspector Iniobong Umoren usurped the role of the Court and became a law unto herself, having encroached on the fundamental rights of the keke man.”

Jeremiah Sunday Udo, residing in Ifa Ikot Idang in Uyo, asserted that economic challenges led him to owe one week’s returns of N20,000, despite having paid N885,000 of the agreed N1.9 million. 

Udo expressed his surprise at being ambushed and arrested on February 12, 2023, stating, “The law is there to protect the tricyclist from heartless people like Inspector Iniobong Umoren and Mr. Udoka David.”

Justice Ntong scrutinized the evidence submitted, stating, “I read all the processes filed by the parties and discovered that the evidence and documents including the bail bond, the petition, and the statements exhibited by the first and second respondents, are doctored and fabricated to mislead the Court.” 

The court ordered the immediate release of Udo’s tricycle, emphasizing compliance with the hire purchase agreement until a competent court issues a different order.

 

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