By Olalekan Awojodu
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Tuesday fixed Feb. 24, 2021 for hearing in a N100 million suit filed by a whistleblower, George Davidson over his illegal detention by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
Davidson had through his lawyer, A.O. Osawaru, filed a motion on notice dated Oct. 19 for the enforcement of his fundamental rights against his alleged illegal detention by officers of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). Also joined in the N100 million suit is a civil servant, Regina Dominic.
While adjourning the matter in a ruling, Justice Nkeonye Maha hinged the decision on the fact that parties in the suit had yet to be joined.
The plaintiff was alleged to have been detained in the commission cell on Oct. 13 without justification until Oct. 24 when he was moved to a police cell at the Federal Secretariat.
He alleged that he was kept in the cell until Oct. 31 when he was released over information supplied to the anti-corruption agency, through a non-governmental organisation, about Dominic, a Grade Level 09 federal civil servant.
While the ICPC is the 1st respondent; Akeem Lawal, an ICPC Director of Operations; Offili Innocent, ICPC Investigator; Maman Kuru, ICPC Investigator; Kontagora Khadijat, ICPC operative; Mrs Regina Dominic and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) are 2nd to 7th respondents respectively.
In the application, Osawaru argued that no court had found the applicant guilty of any offence to warrant such detention.
He then sought the court’s declaration that the detention of his client by the ICPC and its agents (2nd to 5th respondents), at the behest of Mrs Dominic (6th respondent), was unlawful and unwarranted.
“An order directing the 7th respondent (AGF) to take over and assign the applicant’s petition against the 6th respondent to another anti-corruption agency for a discreet investigation.
“The sum of hundred million naira against the 1st to 6th respondents as damages/compensation for the illegal, unwarranted, unlawful and unconstitutional arrest and detention of the applicant.
The lawyer also urged the court to direct the 1st to 5th respondents to refrain from further actions that could amount to the breach of Davidson’s fundamental rights, among others.
Counsel to the applicant informed the court that the motion on notice was for the enforcement of fundamental rights of his client.
When Justice Maha asked whether an issue had been joined, Osawaru responded, saying “after the close of work on Friday, we got informed that the 1st defendant filed a counter affidavit and preliminary objection which we have not seen till this moment.”
“But if no issues have been joined, you have to take a date,” the judge said.
“Hope he (Davidson) is not on detention,” Maha asked.
“Upon hearing that the matter is before your honourable court, they released him,” Osawaru responded.
Justice Maha has since adjourned the matter till Feb. 24 for consolidated hearing of the substantive motion.