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Court awards N5m compensation to photographer wrongly paraded as fraudster by EFCC

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has awarded N5 million damages against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for wrongfully parading a photographer, Nasiru Saidu Ali, aka Kozzo as a fraudster.

The incident happened in May 2019 when the anti-graft agency wrongfully arrested the photographer at his Abuja residence and his pictures circulated on social media accounts of the EFCC alongside those of other alleged internet scammers.

Ali was later released from custody after his innocence was established but he sued the commission for criminal defamation of his character.

The photographer, through his lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, had demanded N100m damages from the EFCC but after five years, the court, in a landmark judgment delivered on Friday, March 22, 2024, awarded N5m damages against the EFCC and ordered the anti-graft agency to tender a public apology to the photographer.

After the court ruling, Olajengbesi reiterated that it is unlawful and amounts to abuse of powers for the EFCC to publicise images of individuals arrested for alleged crimes when such persons have not been convicted by court.

The lawyer said his firm, Law Corridor, took up the photographer’s case pro bono, and after extensive legal proceedings before the Federal High Court, Abuja, justice was finally served.

After proving his case, Justice D.U. Okorowo ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissionto pay the photographer five million naira compensation.

Ali’s lawyer said; “Following numerous legal arguments and delays orchestrated by the EFCC, Honorable Justice John Okoro of Court 8 of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered a landmark judgment on Friday, March 22, 2024.

“The Court deemed EFCC’s actions unconstitutional, as they violated Ali’s right to human dignity, encroached upon his privacy, and a disregard to the noble and fundamental principle of presumption of innocence to have posted his picture on their social media.

“The Court awarded N5 million in exemplary, punitive, and general damages against the EFCC. Additionally, the EFCC was ordered to publicly apologise to the young photographer.

“Even though we asked for 100m, the court awarded 5m and also granted a perpetuated order against EFCC from arresting the photographer again.”