Crime Watch

Court fines police officer N5m for arresting keke driver unlawfully

An Akwa Ibom State High Court has ordered a police Inspector, Iniobong Umoren to pay a commercial tricyclist, Jeremiah Sunday Udo N5 million for his unlawful arrest and impoundment of his tricycle.

It was gathered that the female police officer attached to the State Police Command also impounded his tricycle which was bought on hire purchase for the sum of N1.9million.

Delivering judgment on Thursday, Justice Ntong Ntong also ordered the first respondent and owner of the tricycle, Udoka David to pay the keke rider another N5m for instigating the Police to arrest and detain him for five days without food and water.

The matter was brought before the court by Jeremiah, a native of Ikono Local Government Area, who sought the enforcement of his fundamental rights.

The Court, however, extricated the Akwa Ibom Commissioner of Police, Olatoye Durosinmi who was joined in the suit as the third respondent, but advised him to warn his officers and men to always carry out their duties within the ambit and purview of the law.

The tricyclist told the Court that he has been fulfilling the hire purchase agreement with the owner of the keke, Udoka David from his neighbouring village in Ikono to pay him N20,000 every week until last year when the Naira policy affected the economy resulting in him owing a week returns of N20,000.

Udo said he was surprised when his friend, Udoka, ambushed him with police personnel who arrested him on the 12th of February, 2023, after he had so far paid eight hundred and eighty-five thousand Naira (N885,000) out of the N1.9m agreed in the hire purchase for full recovery of the tricycle.

Justice Ntong in a one-hour judgement wondered why “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.”

He said; “The first respondent, Mr. Udoka David took the law into his hands and lured the Policewoman, who also allowed herself to be led into jettisoning the rule of law using the name of Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police to authenticate her unlawful act” which the Court described as “satanic, nefarious and unwholesome antics against the applicant.”

Justice Ntong said; “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, the law is there to protect the tricyclist from heartless people like Inspector Iniobong Umoren and Mr Udoka David.”

According to the judge, he “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 therefore ordered “Inspector Iniobong Umoren and Mr. Udoka David in the name of God Almighty, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Inspector General of Police to release forthwith, the applicant’s tricycle pending when a Court of competent jurisdiction will order otherwise under the hire purchase agreement”.