Court awards N80m against police, businessman for wrongful prosecution
Written by Henry on February 8, 2018
A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has awarded N80m damages fee against the police and a businessman, Raphael Obi, for the wrongful prosecution of a clearing agent, Rapheal Okonkwo.
The police had arrested, detained and prosecuted Okonkwo, on the allegation that he stole a 40-feet container, containing a product, containing Topgel MC, valued at N36.4m.
He was prosecuted before a Lagos State Chief Magistrate Court in Igbosere on a charge, marked, A/55/2004.
But the magistrate court, presided over by Mr. Akintunde Isaac, dismissed the charge against him and pronounced him not guilty.
Okonkwo, through his lawyer, Abang Mkpandiok, thereafter, sued the police before Justice Babajide Candide-Johnson of the high court, contending that his arrest, detention and prosecution were wrongful.
He urged the court to award N100m damages against the police in his favour.
Joined as respondents in the suit were Obi, a police officer, Haruna Ishaq, and the Inspector-General of Police.
In his judgment, Justice Candide-Johnson held that Obi, on whose complaint the police arrested and prosecuted Okonkwo, only handed over Okonkwo to the Police Special Fraud Unit to avoid paying a debt of N60m that he (Obi) owed Okonkwo.
The judge held, “What exactly does this case have to do with armed robbery and SARS who are specifically a squad to tackle armed robbers?
“I can only arrive at one inference that the movement of Okonkwo to SARS was activated by an unjustifiable intention to inflict injury on him and a desire to cause him harm.
“On the totality of evidence before this court, I hold that the claimant (Rapheal Okonkwo) has credibly established and proved all the requisite ingredients of malicious prosecution.
“Accordingly, I enter judgment forthwith in favour of the claimant (Okonkwo) against the defendants.
“N80m is awarded against all the defendants jointly and severally.”