An Akwa Ibom State High Court in Uyo has awarded N40 million damages against the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Justice Nsemeke Daniel gave the ruling in a suit filed by an Uyo-based businessman, Ubong Williams, challenging his illegal arrest and detention by the commission.
The court in suit number: HU/FHR.67/2021 held that the arrest, torture, harassment and intimidation of Mr. Williams by operatives of the ICPC was illegal and infringed on his fundamental rights as contained in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The court ruled that the notice of seizure issued by the ICC to freeze the account of Mr. Williams in a second generation bank was illegal, unlawful and an infringement of his right.
It, therefore, ordered the ICPC to withdraw the notice of seizure dated March 25, 2021 on Mr. William’s account while also nullifying the lien placed on the account.
Mr. Williams, a consultant with the Akwa Ibom State government, was arrested by the ICPC in a similar petition he is in court with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
ICPC operatives led by the Akwa Ibom State commissioner, Shola Shodipo, had picked up Mr. Williams from his office on Thursday, March 18 and took him to Abuja where he was detained for two weeks without trial.
But in an ex-parte motion filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Andem Andem in suit number HU/FHR.67/2021, he prayed the court to hold that the action of the anti-graft agency violated his fundamental rights.
In the suit, the ICPC, its director of operations, Akem Lawal and the Akwa Ibom State commissioner, Shola Shodipo, are listed as first, second and third respondents respectively.
While kicking against the prolonged detention of his client, Mr. Andem argued that the anti-graft agency had failed to inform Mr. Williams of the particular offence for which he was arrested.
Mr. Andem also held that keeping his client in custody without charging him to court was unconstitutional and a breach of his fundamental rights.
Ruling on the application, the presiding Judge, Nsemeke Daniel ordered that Williams be released from detention pending the determination of his application for enforcement of fundamental rights in this court.
Despite the court order, the ICPC had kept him in detention till April 8, 2021, when the chairman of the commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, finally approved his release.