A tricycle operator, Sunday Agu, Thursday, dragged the Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), Mr Abdullahi Gana, before the Federal High Court Abuja over alleged illegal detention.
Agu also joined three officers of the Corps; Abdulmajeed Imam, Agili Chinedu and Yebage Adamu in the suit: They are 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.
While the NSCDC Niger State Command, Commandant is the 4th respondent, Gana, NSCDC, Christy Ojide, and Alex Ojide are 5th, 6th,7th and 8th respondents respectively.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Ifeanyi Igwe, told the High Court Judge, Justice Nkeonye Maha, that the matter was brought in pursuant to section 35 (1) to (6), 34(1), 37, 41, 44, and 46(1) of the 1999 constitution, Articles 4,5,6,12(1) and 14 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Igwe told the judge that since the applicant was detained on July 16, he had been in the Corps’ detention at David Mark Road, NSCDC Headquarter, Minna, for no justification.
In an affidavit deposed to by Lydia Agu, wife of the applicant, she said she deposed to the affidavit because of the inability of her husband to do so.
According to her, the 7th and 8th respondents attend the same church with her and her husband.
She said that in early Aug. 2018, Agu, the applicant, was informed by the 7th respondents that she had a tricycle for hire and asked whether he had a good person that would take the said tricycle on hire purchase.
“My husband informed the 7th respondent that he knew one Mr Chibuike Agu who was interested and thereafter introduced him to the 7th respondent.
“Chibuike met my husband and stated that he had just concluded the hire purchase agreement with the 7th respondent and proceeded to present the agreement papers to Agu who signed as one of the two witnesses.
“Sometime in April, the 7th respondent called to inform the applicant that Chibuike had defaulted in the payment of the agreed installment.
“On May 17, the 2nd and 3rd respondents leading other officers of the 6th respondent, arrested the applicant and ordered him to move his tricycle to their nearby office premises,” she said.
Lydia said that the applicant was later granted administrative bail by the 1st to 6th respondents and released to Emeka Nwosu, who stood as applicant’s surety after he had agreed to retrieve the tricycle from the hirer (Chibuike).
She said that despite her husband’s pledge, the officers failed to release his tricycle with registration number PAK 492 WT, which was seized pending the time he would retrieve the hired tricycle from Chibuike.
“The 2nd respondent said the applicant had signed as a guarantor but the applicant protested that he never signed as a guarantor but only as a witness to the hire purchase agreement,” he said.
Lydia alleged that the 7th and 8th respondent had altered the hire purchase agreement in order to carry out their illegal act.
“Before embarking on the journey, the applicant requested for and obtained a copy of the hire purchase agreement but to his shock, the word ‘witness’ was ruled over and a blue pen used to write ‘guarantor’ above it.
“The words ‘Mr Sunday is his guarantor’ was also added,” she said.
She said that after several enquires in Suleja, her husband located the hirer, Chibuike, who informed him that he had no problem with the 7th and 8th respondent (Mr and Mrs Ojide).
She said Chibuike later handed over the tricycle to her husband who delivered it to Mr and Mrs Ojide.
“Surprisingly, when the applicant reported at the office of the 6th respondent in Minna with the retrieved hired tricycle and requested for the release of his own tricycle, the 2nd and 3rd respondents refused.
“They said the tricycle will only be released if the applicant paid the sum of N250,000.
“The 7th and 8th defendants had mandated the 2nd and 3rd respondents to recover same from either the hirer or the applicant,” she said.
She said all efforts by her husband to retrieve his tricycle failed.
Lydia also said that a Magistrate court in Minna had ordered them to release her husband’s tricycle but they disobeyed the court order.
She said her husband had been in detention since the day of his arrest and when the Nigerian Police investigating the case of forgery against the 7th respondent wrote to the 1st to 6th respondent for the release of the applicant, they refused.
Counsel to the applicant told Justice Maha that the detention of his client was unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.
Igwe, who sought for the order of the court for the applicant’s immediate release, also said the seizure of his tricycle in disobedience of a subsisting order of the court was illegal.
Justice Maha ordered the release of Agu if not arraigned within three days and adjourned the case until Sept. 6.