The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday awarded N40m to the President of Chocolate City Group, Audu Maikori, as compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention between February 17 and 18, 2017 and again March 10 and 13, 2017.
Delivering judgement in the fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Maikori on May 5, 2017, Justice John Tsoho ordered the four respondents including, Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, and the police to pay the damages to the applicant.
The judge also directed the respondents to pay the sum of N1,430 to the applicant as the cost of instituting the suit.
But the judge noted that his judgement was not meant to interfere with the ongoing trial of Makori in Kaduna.
He also ruled that the police could justifiably arrest suspects for allegedly violating the law and order on the cyberspace.
The respondents to the suit are the Inspector-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State, the Governor of Kaduna State and the Attorney-General of Kaduna State.
Maikori was arrested on allegations of posting “inciting” tweets alleging the killing of some Southern Kaduna students by Fulani herdsmen.
The details of the tweets later turned out to be false, but Maikori claimed he obtained the information from his driver.
He later expressed regret over the posts and retracted them.
The police subsequently obtained an order of arrest from a Magistrates’ court in Kaduna, arrested him in Lagos on February 17, flew him to Abuja where they detained him and released him on bail on February 18.
Justice Tsoho granted 14 out of the 25 prayers sought by the applicant.
The judge held that Maikori’s arrest in Lagos was unlawful. The police failed to register the arrest warrant obtained from a magistrates’ court in Kaduna in any court in Lagos where it effected the arrest.
He ruled, “The arrest was improper, irregular and wrongful.
“By necessary implication, the arrest was unlawful despite being released after 24 hours.”
The court also agreed with the submissions of Maikori’s lawyer, Miss Gloria Ballason, that the applicant was arrested and detained between March 10 and 13 even when the police was aware of his health challenge, thereby violating his right to life and dignity.