11th August, 2011
In a bid to forestall unwarranted arrests, harassment and detention by men of the Nigeria Police, seven tricycle operators have dragged Inspector General of Police before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The aggrieved members of the Three Wheelers Association, Orile New Park unit, are also claiming N4 million as compensation for damages suffered as a result of the wrong action of the police.
Joined as co-respondents in the ensuing legal battle are the Commissioner of Police in charge of Federal Anti Robbery Squad, Adeniji-Adele Annex, Lagos; one Supol Ibrahim, Inspector Shehu and one Amos Oyetunde a.k.a. Baba Oyo, who the applicants alleged that although he is a tricycle operator, he is not a member of their association.
In an affidavit in support of the fundamental rights enforcement suit sworn to by Olaiya Sule and filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Gani Bello, it was averred that the seven applicants, Tajudeen Adebayo, Ahmed Salami, Abdulahi Adeyemo, Ajikobi Gbenga, Jelili Salami, Sesan Ciroma and Lateef Ismail, are all executive members of the association of the New Park unit Orile-Iganmu, Lagos State.
The association, it was averred further, applied for and got license and authority to use the Orile New Park managed by the executive members of the unit of the association.
However, on 7 January this year, Supol Ibrahim and Inspector Shehu earlier mentioned as defendants in this case, had on the directive of the Commissioner of Police, Adeniji-Adele, stormed the park with other policemen to arrest some of the applicants and detained them without any criminal charge preferred against them, rather they were advised to allow Amos Oyetunde, who is not a member, to continue to operate at the park.
On 9 January, 2011, the arrested members, Tajudeen Adebayo, Ahmed Salami, Abdulahi Adeyemo were released on bail only to be re-arrested on 14 January and detained till 27 January, 2011 by the respondents.
Sine the applicants refused to yield to the pressure to allow Amos Oyetunde operate at the park, the police, who are respondents in this case, were on 24 May, 2011, arrested and detained them in the midst of armed robbery suspects at the Federal SARS cell at Adeniji-Adele for no offence and were release on bail on 29 May, 2011.
During the state meetings of the association, this issue of police victimisation of the applicants was brought up for discussion and the resolution was that since Amos Oyetunde is not a member, he should not be allowed to operate in the park as the association paid for same before the authorities concerned allowed them the use of the park for their members only.
Consequently, they contended that the action of the police officers who are the defendant in this case, violated their fundamental rights since they did not commit any criminal offence, rather, they alleged that the police are being used to intimidate them, therefore, unless the court intervenes, the police will continue to harass and intimidate them.
Consequently, the applicants urged the court not only to declare that their arrests and detention were unlawful and wrong, but to also restrain the defendants and their agents from re-arresting or detaining them or depriving them in any way whatsoever, their liberty.
The presiding judge, Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako has adjourned till 11 October for further hearing.