A Benin High Court on Tuesday awarded N2.52million in damages against the police authorities for detaining in custody seven men as suspects without trial for over two weeks.
The police had arrested Wilfred Ogbewe, 52, Igbinobono Collins, 26, Salami Osayomore, 25, Odion Osayande, 23, Morgan Uwanboe, 47, Ifeoluwa Oladele, 36, and Agbonrere Festus, 25, over alleged invasion of the House of Assembly premises in Benin on August 6.
According to the police, the alleged invasion of the assembly by the men was in a manner that caused breach of peace.
Delivering judgment in the application for Enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights, filed by Mr. Matthias Obayuwana, their counsel, Justice Efe Ikponmwoba held that the arrest and detention of the men was illegal.
She said the police arrested the claimants on the premises of the Edo House of Assembly on August 6, detained them at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for four days and later transferred them to the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
Justice Ikponmwoba said the men were further detained for another two weeks without being arraigned before a competent court of jurisdiction.
She said although the police could arrest a suspect on the grounds of reasonable suspicion of committing an offence, such suspect must be brought before a competent court within the jurisdiction.
Justice Ikponmwoba said failure to do so amounted to a gross violation of the human rights of the claimants.
The court observed that the claimants had made statements on the date they were arrested to the effect that they were members of the state vigilance group, who were deployed in the premises of the House of Assembly to protect government’s facilities.