Mr. Clement Asuquo Etim, an Uyo based businessman has approached Akwa Ibom State High Court requesting for N200m damages and the enforcement oh his fundamental rights in a lawsuit against the Nigeria Police Force for arresting, torturing, and framing him up for unknown offences. The claimant accused a police officer, CSP Celestine Umeh, of being caught in bed with his wife, Lawrentia Asuquo Etim after which he used the intimidation means to silent him.
Joined as defendant in the suit are the Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom State, the Officer-in-Charge of General Investigation at the State CID, SP Ekene Nwosu, and a Chief Superintendent of Police, Umeh.
In a 46-page court document filed by the chambers of Inibehe Effiong on his behalf, Clement Etim stated that Umeh violated his fundamental right to private and family life as guaranteed by Section 37 of the Nigerian constitution when he intruded into his matrimonial home at Aba Ukpo Estate in Uyo and had an amorous affair with his wife.
The lawsuit marked Suit No: HU/FHR.72/2020 is asking the court to enforce the fundamental rights of Mr. Clement Asuquo Etim to the dignity of the human person, personal liberty, private and family life and freedom of movement.
The claimant is asking the court to declare that, “The arrest and detention of the Applicant by the officers and agents of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Respondents from 27th April 2020 till the 30th April 2020 without being charged to court for a known offence is unreasonable, unjustifiable, illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the fundamental right of the applicant to personal liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed by Sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap. A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
He prayed the court to declare that the harassment, intimidation, physical and mental torture, the inhuman and degrading treatment meted out against the applicant by the SP Nwosu is unjustifiable, illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the applicant’s fundamental right to dignity of the human person as guaranteed by Section 34 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap. A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The claimant is asking the court to declare that the invasive acts of CSP Umeh, “including his deliberate intrusion into the home of the applicant at Aba Ukpo Estate in Uyo Local Government Area, co-habitation with the wife of the applicant, and laying with the applicant’s wife on the matrimonial bed of the applicant on 27th April 2020 is grossly offensive, unjustifiable, illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the fundamental right of the applicant to private and family life as guaranteed by Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”
also prayed the court to declare that the invasion of his client’s home by policemen from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the seizure of the contents of his mobile phone of the applicant by SP Ekene in conceit with other officers without the applicant’s consent or a court order is unjustifiable, illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the fundamental right of the applicant to privacy as guaranteed by Section 37 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
In his 35 paragraphs affidavit, Etim averred that “on several occasions when I embark on business trips to Calabar, I always receive credible reports of my wife, Mrs Lawrentia Asuquo Etim, having amorous affairs with the 4th respondent, CSP Celestine Umeh; including his regular visits to my matrimonial home and how he equally spent nights in my home with my wife during my absence.
“On the 27th of April, 2020, my house help who lives in my matrimonial home, Christopher Bassey, a 15-year-old boy, called me over the phone in the evening and informed me. I verily believed him, that the 4th Respondent had come to my home again to spend the night in continuation of his amorous relationship with my wife.
“Following that credible information, I decided to return home unscheduled. On getting to my home at Flat 7, Aba Ukpo Estate in Uyo at about 7:00 p.m. on the 27th April 2020, I caught the 4th Respondent red-handed with my wife making love on my matrimonial bed, not minding the presence of my 15-year-old house boy, my 7-year-old son and my 3-year-old daughter in the apartment.”
Etim told the court that when he confronted CSP Umeh, he ran out and fled with his wife.
He said thereafter, policemen from SARS invaded his home and arrested him, his cousin and house help and took them to the state police command where he was tortured severely to the point that he started bleeding.
He also told the court that SP Nwosu seized his phone and deleted incriminating photos and videos that he took and recorded when he caught CSP Umeh in bed with his wife and that Nwosu falsely accused him of planning to use the photos and the videos to blackmail Umeh.
Etim also accused Umeh of assisting his adulterous wife to escape with all his properties and two children to an unknown destination.
Effiong, in his written address, asked the court to order the Nigeria Police Force, the Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom State, SP Nwosu, who is the Officer-in-Charge of General Investigations and CSP Umeh to jointly and severally pay him the sum of N200, 000, 000 as general and exemplary damages for violating the fundamental rights of his client to the dignity of his person, personal liberty, private and family life and freedom of movement.
The lawyer also asked that the respondents should be ordered to publish a public apology to his client in two national newspapers and that the court should restrain the police from further violating the rights of his client.
The case has been assigned to Hon. Justice Charles Ikpe of the Akwa Ibom State High Court and has been fixed for June 11, 2020, for hearing.