By Alex Enumah
A Federal High Court, Abuja, will on August 20, 2020 commence hearing in a N100 million alleged rights violation suit against the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, adjourned to the said date for commencement of hearing after he ordered the service of all the court processes on the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), who is the third respondent in the suit.
The plaintiff, Mr. Ernest Ibe, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/861/2020, accused NAPTIP of illegally detaining him for four days over a complaint that was lodged by his wife, Chioma, the second respondent in the case.
The complainant informed the court that he was kept in custody of the first defendant from July 20 to 23, after he honoured an invitation to report to its head office in Abuja.
In a 19-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff claimed that he had “series of domestic misunderstandings” with his wife, though their marriage is blessed with four children.
He noted that sometime in January 2020, his wife filed a petition for divorce at the Anambra State High Court, Otuocha Judicial Division.
“That I went to the 1st respondent‘s office to honour of the invitation on July 20, 2020, at around 3:00pm.
“That upon arrival at the premises, I was interrogated by the 1st respondent‘s employees, and I was detained in the 1st respondent’s premises from Monday, July 20 to Thursday, July 23, 2020.
“That during the 4 days of my detention, I was refused bail and was not charged to court.
“That I made frantic efforts to secure my release to a reasonable surety but all my appeals were rebuffed by the 1st respondent’s staff.
“That while I was in detention, the staff of the 1st respondent conducted a search in my house and forcibly brought my children to the 1st respondents premises,” he said.
He added that while he was in detention the first and second respondents painted a ‘Not for Sale” notice on his house.
He added that he was released on bail around 8:00pm on July 23, 2020 on the strength of his lawyer’s letter.
Ibe however claimed that the first and second respondents have continued to intimidate and harass him with threats of arrest and forcibly retaking his children into their custody.
He is among other reliefs, seeking, “a declaration that the arrest and detention of the applicant by the 1st respondent from July 20 to 23, 2020, without charging him to court, is illegal and unconstitutional and therefore violates the applicant’s fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed under Section 35(1) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondents from harassing and intimidating the applicant with arrest or taking his children away for any reason whatsoever pending the determination of this case.
“An order compelling the respondents to pay the sum of N100,000,000.00 (one hundred million naira) as exemplary and aggravated damages to the applicant for the violation of his fundamental rights”.
Meanwhile, before adjourning the matter for hearing, Justice Mohammed ordered substituted service of the court processes on the applicant’s wife.
The court granted the applicant the leave to paste a copy of the suit at the residence of the second respondent at No 1 William Street, Life Camp, Abuja.
Justice Mohammed further ordered all the parties to maintain the status quo, pending the determination of the suit.