The Anambra State High Court has ordered a former member of the House of Representatives, Ifeanyi Ibezi, to pay N1.1 million to two persons he detained in his toilet during the 2019 elections.
The victims are Paul Onwughalu and Friday Titus Umah. The court said Mr Ibezi violated their fundamental human rights.
The court also ordered Mr Ibezi, who represented Idemili North/ South Federal Constituency, to pay N100,000 to the duo as cost of litigation and tender a public apology to them in a daily newspaper that circulates in Anambra State.
Mr Ibezi, who contested the 2019 poll on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, was sworn in after the general election but was sacked by the Court of Appeal and replaced with Obinna Chidoka of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The applicants had sued Mr Ibezi, complaining of violation of their fundamental human rights and unlawful detention.
In suit HID/MISC/81/2019, the complainants said they were prevented from pasting the campaign posters of their principal, Annie Okonkwo, who was the candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the 2019 general election.
The plaintiffs had sought an order of the court for Mr Ibezi and the co-defendants to pay them N150 million as damages as well as make a public apology in a newspaper.
Other respondents in the suit were Anayo Ndubuisi, Osita Agbaleke, Ifeanyichukwu Udoh, Chinasa Okoye, Obisesan Olusegun (a divisional police officer at Eziowelle Police Station) and the Commissioner Of Police in Anambra.
The plaintiff said they were beaten, tortured and dispossessed of the posters before being arrested by the defendants and detained in a toilet at the premises of Mr Ibezi’s residence at Abatete.
They said they were later handed over to the police station in Eziowelle where they were detained without being asked to make statements or told what their offences were.
They said the acts violated their fundamental rights and were against the spirit of section 39(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and Article IX of African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
In his judgment, Justice Emeka Nri-Ezedi said the suit had merit and that the plaintiffs proved their case with sufficient and vital evidence .
The judge said,”I declare that the arrest, beating and torture and agony inflicted on the applicants by the second respondent on Dec. 29, 2018 and forcefully detaining or confining the applicants in a toilets in the first respondent’s premises from December 29 to December 30, 2018 at the instigation of the first respondent is unlawful, unconstitutional and a violation of the applicants’ fundamental right.
“The first to fifth respondents are hereby ordered to jointly and severally tender apology to the applicants in one daily newspaper that circulates in Anambra State.”