A couple, Uzoma and Victoria Nwachukwu, on Thursday pleaded with the Independent Investigation panel for a compensation of N5 million in their favour against a petitioner.
The panel is investigating violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other units of the police.
The couple informed the panel that a certain Engr. Nicholas Azuka had defrauded them when they tried to purchase a property (house) from him.
The indicted Azuka, in a petition marked 2029/IIP-SARS/ABJ/102, had alleged abuse of office and arbitrary arrest against Insp. Somalia and Henry of defunct SARS at the Federal Capital Territory.
Joined as respondents also are Mr Uzoma Nwachukwu, Mrs Victoria Nwachukwu, Defunct SARS, FCT commissionner of police and the Inspector General of Police.
In their oral submissions before the panel, Mr and Mrs Nwachukwu, who did not have a lawyer to present their case before the panel said that they filed and served their written address in respect of the matter on all the parties.
Nwachukwu, though not a lawyer, addressed the panel on behalf of himself and his wife, saying that they want the petitioner, Azuka, to balance them the sum of N2.3 million, having willingly refunded them N1.4 million earlier.
Besides, he prayed the panel to order in their favour, a compensation of N5 million against the complainant, saying “we are suffering as a result of the debt and we do not have money to hire a lawyer to defend us”.
Earlier, the respondents counsel, Fidelis Ogbobe, told the panel that from the evidence before the court, there was a valid criminal allegation against the complainant (Azuka) for which the police arrested and detained him.
He cited Section 66 of the Police Act which he noted empowers the police to deal with such matters.
In furtherance of his reply on points of law to the written address of the petitioner, the police counsel recalled that the evidence of Mr and Mrs Nwachukwu who are 3rd and 4th respondents respectively in the matter, shows that there is a valid criminal allegation against the complainant.
Responding to the complainant’s position that the police lack the power to recover money from him during their investigation of the aforementioned criminal breach of trust, Ogbobe told the panel that the police are empowered by the law to investigate cases of breach of trust which culminated into criminal acts.
On the contention by the complainant that the money recovered by the police during investigation should be returned to him, he argued that the Supreme Court has already taken a decision on similar matters.
He cited the case of Ajiboye Versus Federal Republic of Nigeria where the Supreme Court held that courts (and by extension panel) should not allow any person to take a benefit of his crime.
He then urged the panel to order the complainant to return the remaining alleged proceeds of crime still with him which he said amounts to N2.3 million.
Earlier, Counsel to the complainant, Henry Ogbor, asked the panel to determine whether Inspector Henry of defunct SARS FCT played the proper role expected of a police officer in the matter.
He added that the panel should also establish whether Mr. and Mrs. Nwachukwu are entitled to the reliefs they are seeking before the panel.
In addition, he pleaded with the panel to ensure that officers deserving punishment in the case did not hide under the cover of the Institution of the Police.
He added that rather, they should be fished out for appropriate punishment, including dismissal where necessary.
He said such measures will serve as a deterrent to other police officers in the field of operation.
The chairman of the panel, Rtd Justice Suleiman Galadima, after listening to their submissions, adjourned for a report of the panel.