The police authorities in Nigeria have asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the counsel to suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje to pay a punitive cost of N300,000 for alleged wrongful service of the court processes on parties in the suit. Evans, through Ogungbeje, had filed a N300 million fundamental enforcement rights suit against the Inspector-General of Police, IG, the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, Commissioner of Police, CP, Lagos State and the Lagos State Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, as second, alleging wrongful detention.
The suit was stalled before Justice Abdulaziz Anka on July 20, following Ogungbeje’s failure to comply with a July 13 order to pay the police N20,000 as cost. However, at the hearing in the matter, yesterday, Ogungbeje informed Justice Anka that the cost was paid on August 10. He said that he had complied with the court’s order to serve the respondents and that the matter was ripe for hearing. But counsel to the CP and SARS, Emmanuel Eze, opposed his submission, explaining that the absence of counsel to the IG and NPF, was due to the fact that Ogungbeje failed to serve them in Abuja as directed by the court. 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 added that the CP Lagos State and the IGP were distinct personalities. Ogungbeje, he stated, had only served the CP at Alagbon in Lagos but was yet to serve the IGP in Abuja, adding: “Our submission is that he has not taken steps to clothe this court with jurisdiction to hear this case.” “Since Ogungbeje has refused to do the right thing, we are asking the court for costs of N300,000,” Eze added Ogungbeje in reply, maintained that the IG 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.