An Akwa Ibom State-based lawyer, Paul Igwe, has dragged the police to Abia State Judicial Panel on Police Brutality, Extra-Judicial Killings and Related Matters, alleging assault and illegal detention.
While testifying yesterday before the panel presided over by a retired Chief Judge of the state, Justice Sunday Imo, Igwe alleged that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Eastern Ngwa Divisional Police Headquarters, Umuobiakwa in Abia, Mr. Okon Asuquo, had on August 18, 2020, hit and held him firmly on his neck, and detained him in a police cell after smashing his smartphone.
Igwe urged the panel to determine if an errant police officer should not be disciplined for maiming, harassing, illegally detaining and maliciously prosecuting innocent Nigerians.
Claiming that the police accused him of being a fake lawyer and charged him to court the next day, the petitioner urged the panel to award him N50 million as compensation.
Narrating his ordeal before the panel, Igwe stated that it started when his client’s truck broke down on their way to Aba.
He stated that when his client’s creditor saw his client’s faulty truck, he rushed to the Eastern Ngwa Divisional Police Headquarters to lodge a complaint.
In quick response to the complaint, officers from the DPO’s office quickly arrived and towed the truck to their station.
The barrister stated: “After a while, my client paid the N14,000 debt to the creditor at the police station. The Divisional Crime Officer (DCO), through the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), asked my client to pay N100,000 before his truck would be released to him, but I opposed the request.
“When the first wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was over, we went to court for enforcement of my client’s fundamental rights at the state High Court of Justice, Obingwa Judicial Division, and challenged the continuous illegal seizure of my client’s truck.”
The petitioner further informed the panel that the court, on August 4, 2020, determined the suit in favour of his client against the police, mandated the police to release my client’s truck unconditionally and awarded N2 million damages against the police for unlawful detention of my client’s truck without justification.
According to Igwe, despite the court verdict, the DPO has vowed not to release the truck.
The police officer reportedly said: “Let the stupid judge, who gave the judgement, come here and take the truck away.”
But the defence lawyer, in his submission, described the petitioner as a false witness.
The matter was adjourned till March 17, 2021, for further hearing.
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