Court of Appeal Dismisses IPOB Lawyer’s Appeal Over Unlawful Arrest

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has rejected an appeal filed by Felix Okonkwo, one of the lawyers of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), regarding his unlawful arrest and detention by the police and the Department of State Services (DSS).

Okonkwo, along with Ikenna Chibuike and Okafor Ugochukwu, had filed a fundamental human rights suit against the police and the DSS, alleging violations of their rights during their arrest and detention on September 27, 2021.

In a judgment delivered on March 24, 2022, Justice Samaila Bature found the police liable for the unlawful arrest and imposed a fine of N2 million against them. However, no order was made against the DSS due to a lack of cause of action against the agency.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal, contesting the adequacy of the N2 million fine and seeking to hold the DSS accountable for their ordeal.

In the lead judgment delivered on Monday, Justice Okon Abang dismissed the appeal, stating that the appellants failed to demonstrate a miscarriage of justice. He noted that video evidence presented by the appellants did not implicate the DSS in their arrest.

Justice Abang upheld the N2 million compensation, emphasizing that the amount was properly awarded based on the circumstances of the case. He emphasized that the discretion to award damages rested with the judge and could not be dictated by the appellants.

Concluding, Justice Abang affirmed the decision of the trial court and dismissed the appeal, with no order as to costs.

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