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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Court orders A’Ibom govt to pay inmate N2m for 8-year wrong imprisonment

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The Akwa Ibom State High Court of Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area Division has ordered the address of governor Udom Emmanuel, to pay the sum of N2 million for the rehabilitation of a 28 year-old man, one Idaraobong Sunday Dickson, “for making him to suffer in prison for eight good years, over allegation of armed robbery and rape, which he knew nothing about.”

The Court, presided over by Justice Ntong Ntong, gave the order at the weekend in its judgment in a protracted case between the State against, Idaraobong Sunday Dickson and three others on trial since 2015 on a six-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony, robbery, armed robbery and rape.

Justice Ntong, who discharged and acquitted Idaraobong, having found him not guilty, however convicted and sentenced the two other defendants; Nsikak Godwin, to 20 years in prison and Christopher Sunday, to serve 16 years jail term, expected to run concurrently from 22nd June, 2015.

In the about one hour judgement, the Court also ordered that “the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), must apologize to Idaraobong, either in a national newspaper or privately in a special letter addressed to the defendant for unlawful arrest.”

The Court held that “evidence presented shows that, Idaraobong, a native of Ikot Ada Utor in Midim, Abak LGA, has no case to answer, as there is no evidence linking him with the commission of the alleged offences.”

The Court, however, advised that “Akwa Ibom State Government, particularly the Attorney General of the State and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should always supervise the activities of lawyers in the Attorney General’s Office and the Nigeria Police, to caution its officers to treat civil populace with dignity and respect.”

It further held that “the Police or the State, prosecuting a person suspected of committing a crime, ought to be diligent and sure of their facts, before charging the person to Court.”

Justice Ntong, therefore, wondered how “the life of Idaraobong, a phone battery charger and recharge card seller in Ikot Ekpene, who was toiling day and night to make ends meet, is truncated by Police shoddy investigation.”

He noted that “a situation whereby the accused is made to suffer unjustly is tantamount to unjust treatment of an innocent citizen, who has wasted his youthful years in prison for an offence he did not know.

“If the State Officials and officers of the Nigeria Police Force had done due diligence in their investigation, the ugly situation would have been duly averted”, adding that he was “emboldened to make the order by virtue of my inherent powers pursuant to section 6 (6) of the 1999 Constitution.”


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