A Federal High Court in Abuja has summoned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to appear before it in connection with the arrest and detention of two Chinese nationals and three Nigerian citizens.
Also summoned by the court on the subject matter are an Assistant Superintended of Police (ASP), Sunday Idowu and Zhang Xing, a Chinese national.
Justice Nkeonye Maha issued the order after listening to a motion exparte moved by counsel to the applicants, Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN) for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of his clients.
The applicants who are all security staff of BN Ceramics Industry Nigerian Limited were allegedly arrested and detained by agents of the respondents since August 21, 2019.
Kehinde argued that the said arrest and detention is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates their fundamental rights to freedom of movement, human dignity and personal liberty as guaranteed by sections 34, 35 and 41 of the 1999 constitution.
The court has ordered the respondents to come and show cause why their actions will not be declared illegal.
In a fundamental rights enforcement suit with file number: FHC/ABJ/CS/995/2019, the applicants, Zhang Xin and Yang Long, and three Nigerians; Kashim Abubakar, Olisi College and Shaibu Adam, have sought an order of court, restraining the respondents from further arresting or detaining them pending the determination of the originating motion in the suit.
The applicants also sought “an order directing the respondents to release the applicants who were unlawfully arrested and/or detained by the agents of the respondents unconditionally or on other terms as this honourable court may deem it fit.
In her ruling, Justice Maha further granted an order directing the respondents to immediately arraign the applicants before a competent court of law within 24 hours of the grant of this order.
She also ordered for substituted service of the motion on notice and all other subsequent processes in this suit on the respondents by serving them through any officer of the 1st respondent at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Louis Edet House, Abuja, and that such service be deemed as proper service.
In an affidavit in support of the exparte motion deposed to by one Kemi Esene, the applicants said they are employees of BN Ceramics Industry Nigeria Limited.
They averred that the ownership and shareholding structure of the company is the subject of a pending civil matter at the Federal High Court, Lokoja Judicial Division.
They said that the company is registered under Part A of the Company and Allied Matters Act and carries on the business of production, sales, import and export of ceramic, tiles and ceramic products.
The applicants reminded the court that the 2nd respondent, at the behest of the 4th respondent (Zhang Xing), filed a five-count criminal charge against the company’s directors before the court.
“On Feb. 28, this honourable court delivered its judgment wherein it discharged and acquitted the defendants to the criminal action of all the charges preferred against them, having found them not guilty of the said charges.
“The 2nd respondent (I-G) appealed against the judgment of this honourable court vide a notice of appeal dated May 15,” they said.
They, however, expressed surprise that despite the subsisting judgment and the pending appeal before the Appeal Court, the 2nd respondent (I-G) invited the said directors for questioning.
The applicant explained that Counsel to the company and the directors, Eloka Okoye, told the agents of the 1st and 2nd respondents that they lacked the power to investigate a matter which had already been settled by a judgment of the court.
The applicant narrated that on Aug. 21, the said agents came to the company located at No 168, Ajaokuta-Itobi Expressway in Kogi to arrest the directors without any warrant of arrest or order of court of competent jurisdiction but were resisted.
“Without having committed any offence, without a warrant of arrest and for no justifiable reason, the applicants were arrested by the agents o the 1st and 2nd respondents on Aug. 21 at the factory premises of BN Ceramics Industry Nigeria Limited,” they said in the affidavit.
Justice Nkeonye Maha, therefore, directed that the respondents should immediately arraign the applicants before a competent court of law within 24 hours of the grant of the order.
She also granted that the respondents be served the motion on notice through substituted means.
Maha, who ordered that the respondents should come and show cause while the applicants’ reliefs would not be granted, adjourned till September 2, 2019.
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