The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has rejected the appeal filed by Mr. Felix Okonkwo, a legal representative of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu

Okonkwo claimed that his arrest and detention by the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) were unlawful.

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Justice Okon Abang dismissed the appeal on the grounds of lacking merit, stating that the appellant failed to prove any miscarriage of justice in the judgment issued by a High Court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, regarding the matter.

Felix Okonkwo, Ikenna Chibuike, and Okafor Ugochukwu, who were appellants in the appeal, had taken legal action against the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the DSS in the high court to enforce their fundamental human rights.

They accused the two security agencies of violating their fundamental rights during their alleged unlawful arrest and detention on September 27, 2021, where they claimed to have been subjected to torture, harassment, and intimidation.

In a judgment delivered on March 24, 2022, Justice Samaila Bature found the police liable for unlawful arrest and detention, imposing a fine of N2 million against the police to be paid to the appellants.

However, no order was made against the DSS as the appellants failed to establish any cause of action against them.

Dissatisfied with the high court’s judgment, the three plaintiffs approached the Court of Appeal, seeking an order to hold the DSS accountable for their arrest and detention.

They argued that the N2 million fine imposed on the police was inadequate compensation for their ordeal and requested the appellate court to increase the fine.

In his judgment, Justice Abang disagreed with the appellants’ claims, stating that the video footage presented by them did not show the involvement of DSS operatives during their arrest.

He also asserted that the decision to award compensatory damages lies within the judge’s discretion and cannot be influenced by the plaintiffs.

Justice Abang affirmed the trial court’s decision, stating that the compensation awarded was appropriate considering the circumstances of the case. The appeals were dismissed, and there was no order as to costs.

Justices Joseph Olubunmi Kayode Oyewole and Abba Bello Mohammed, also members of the three-member panel, concurred with Justice Abang’s unanimous judgment.