For alleged wrongful service, the police on Tuesday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to compel Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, counsel to suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a. Evans, to pay a punitive cost of N300,000.
Evans, through Ogungbeje, had filed a N300million fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) alleging wrongful detention.
Also sued are the Police, its Lagos state Commissioner, and the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as second, third and fourth respondents respectively.
The suit was stalled before Justice Abdulaziz Anka at the last hearing last July 20, following Ogungbeje’s failure to comply with a July 13 order to pay the police N20,000 as costs.
However, at the commencement of proceedings yesterday, Ogungbeje informed Justice Anka that the costs were paid on August 10.
He said he had complied with the court’s order to serve the respondents and that the matter was ripe for hearing.
But counsel to the police commissioner and SARS, Emmanuel Eze, opposed him.
Eze, who explained the absence of counsel to the IGP and NPF, argued that Ogungbeje failed to serve them in Abuja as directed by the judge.
He said: “It is not true that the matter is ripe for hearing. This is a fundamental rights enforcement suit brought by the applicant.
“He has not got the leave of court for the matter to be heard during vacation. That is the condition precedent to hearing any matter during vacation.”
Relying on Section 215 of the Constitution and Order 5 Rule 8 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, Eze argued further that the COP Lagos State and the IGP were distinct personalities.
Ogungbeje, he stated, had only served the COP at Alagbon in Lagos but yet to serve the IGP in Abuja.
He said: “Our submission is that he has not taken steps to clothe this court with jurisdiction to hear this case.”
Eze added: “…Since Ogungbeje has refused to do the right thing, we are asking the court for costs of N300,000.”
But countering him, Ogungbeje maintained that the IGP and NPF were served on June 29 at the addresses contained on the originating motion and the proof of service was in the court’s file.
“Secondly, he said, “Order 5 Rule 2 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules has made it clear that service on the respondents’ agents will amount to personal service on respondents,” he said.
He argued that since Eze announced appearance for only the third and fourth respondents, he had no locusto speak for the IGP and The Police.
“He had no mouth to speak for the first and second respondents when there is proof of service.
“Lastly, this proceeding is sui generis (unique). As we speak, the applicant (Evans) is still in detention.”
He urged the court to discountenance Eze’s application for N300,000 costs.
Justice Anka adjourned till today for ruling.
In his fundamental rights enforcement suit, Evans, through Ogungbeje, is seeking a court order directing the police to charge him to court immediately or release him on bail.
Ogungbeje argued that Evans’ detention since June 10, 2017 without being charged to court was a violation of his client’s fundamental rights enshrined in sections 35 (1) (c) (3) (4) (5) (a) (b) and 36 of the Constitution.
For his alleged unlawful detention without being charged to court, Evans wants the court to award