THE Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday ruled in favour of Audu Maikori, president of Chocolate City Group against Kaduna State Government for his unlawful arrest and detention.
The court also the state government to pay him the sum of N10.5 million as damages.
Maikori was arrested by security operatives in Lagos on February 17, 2017 over his social media post about killing in Southern Kaduna which was believed to be false.
But the three-person panel of the Court of Appeal in a judgment unanimously upheld the findings of fact and conclusions of the Federal High Court, holding that the actions of the Kaduna State Government were both unlawful and unconstitutional.
The Court, however, reduced the damages awarded from N40 million to N10.5 million
Before his arrest and detention, Maikori, a lawyer and entrepreneur from Southern Kaduna had written about the killing of some secondary school students in Southern Kaduna by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
He was taken from Lagos to the Force Headquarters in Abuja after his arrest in Lagos.
According to him, he had relied on the information provided by his driver identified as Simon Joseph, but the claim was later found to be false.
In his social media post, he said that his driver’s brother and five other students of College of Education, Gidan Waya were allegedly attacked and killed by herdsmen in Southern Kaduna.
The Government of Kaduna State dismissed the claims as inaccurate.
The school Maikori identified later debunked the claim in a statement. Maikori also apologised for the wrong information.
He was granted bail the following day and released. However, he was re-arrested on March 10 and transferred to Kaduna.
The lawyer was detained for four days in Kaduna where he was prosecuted but released “on liberal terms” on March 13.
But in May, 2017, Maikori through his lawyers sued Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, the Inspector General of Police and the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police for human rights violation.
On October 27, the Federal High Court in Abuja awarded N40 million in Maikori’s favour but Kaduna State Government challenged the judgement at a superior court.
Responding to the judgment, Gloria Ballason, his lead counsel, said the ruling was important for the protection of all persons in Nigeria.
“By today’s judgment, the Court of Appeal reaffirms the sanctity of the rights of citizens against abuse by the designs of temporal power and makes clear that politicians in government using security agencies at their disposal cannot pick and choose what parts of the constitution to obey or observe,” Ballason said.