The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday ordered the immediate release of a commercial bus driver, Jones Ofori, who was detained for alleged robbery without trial since 2013.
The court also ordered the police to pay him damages in the sum of N10m for his unlawful detention.
Justice Muslim Hassan, who gave the judgment on Monday, noted that though the defendants filed a counter-affidavit in opposition to the suit, they never served it on the plaintiff and they never appeared in court to argue it.
He said he had no other option but to grant the relief sought by Ofori.
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Federal Government; the Attorney General of the Federation; Inspector-General of Police; and the Deputy Controller of Prisons.
In the suit filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Adewale Fadipe, Ofori explained that he was arrested by the police in 2013 after a bus entrusted to him by his employer, one Mr Ikechukwu, went missing from where he parked it overnight in the Ajah area of Lagos.
He said following a complaint to the police, he was first detained for two weeks at the Ajiwe Police Station, Ajah; from where was subsequently transferred to the office of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Ikeja, where he was further detained for two weeks.
Ofori told the court that he was latter charged with robbery before a state’s magistrate’s court after which he was remanded in prison custody.
He said since being remanded in prison six years ago, he was never tried.
He urged the court to declare that his arrest and detention without trial violated his fundamental rights.
He prayed the court to award damages against the respondents in his favour.
Justice Hassan, in a judgment on Monday, upheld his prayers and awarded N10m in his favour.