A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice John Tsoho on Friday awarded N40 million to the President of Chocolate City Group, Audu Maikori, as compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention by the police between February 17 and 18, 2017 and between March 10 and 13, 2017.
- Early this year, Audu Maikori posted a false tweet on social media for which he has apologized. He claimed in the tweets that some Southern Kaduna students were killed by Fulani herdsmen.
- It turned out that the tweet was untrue. Maikori claimed that the false information was provided by his driver. He retracted it and apologized.
- Gov. Nasir El-Rufai and the police considered the tweet to be inciting. The Police arrested Maikori in Lagos on February 17 after obtaining an arrest warrant from a Magistrates’ court in Kaduna. He was flown to Abuja where he was detained and released on bail on February 18.
- He was arrested again on March 10 and released on March 13.
What was the ruling for?:
- Justice Tsoho granted 14 out of 25 prayers in Maikori’s fundamental rights suit.
- He ruled that Maikori’s arrest in Lagos was “improper, irregular and unlawful.”
- Why? Because even though the police got a valid arrest warrant from a magistrate’s court in Kaduna, it failed to register the warrant in any court in Lagos where it effected the arrest. “By necessary implication, the arrest was unlawful despite being released after 24 hours,” the judge said.
- The court also ruled that the second arrest and detention in March despite the fact that the police was aware of Maikori’s health challenges violated his right to life and dignity.
The judge was however clear about two things:
- His judgment is not meant to interfere with Maikori’s ongoing trial in Kaduna.
- His judgment should not be misconstrued to mean that the police cannot arrest suspects who violate law and order online. The police have the powers to do so.
The respondents in the suit were: The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, the Inspector General of Police, the Kaduna Commissioner of Police and the Kaduna attorney-general.