Nigeria’s leading human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), plans to sue the police for N1b for the detention of a Nigerian businessman based in South Africa, Bonny Okonkwo.
247 U Reports said Okonkwo, was held since mid July incommunicado and tortured several times at the Garki Police Station in Abuja and that he was not released till Monday, July 31, 2013, following a court order secured by Mr Falana.
The Constitution prohibits the detention of any person beyond 24 hours without court trial unless the person is suspected of committing a serious crime like murder.
“Defamation is a civil offence on Nigeria’s statute books”, noted Adaeze Ekwueme, a Lagos-based legal practitioner who joined the Falana team to enforce Okonkwo’s fundamental human rights after 16 days in detention.
“It is, therefore, very strange in the first place that the police should be involved in the matter between Comrade Okonkwo and Offor”.
Okonkwo incurred Offor’s wrath for expressing an opinion expressed in an internet forum of mostly Oraifite people of Anambra State to the effect that Offor’s recent $1.3m donation to Rotary International for polio eradication should have been channeled to the development of their local community or used to pay off some people whose funds were trapped in the defunct Afex Bank owned by Offor.
Ekwueme accused the police of “acting not like agents of the law but like those of a wealthy government contractor since the inception of the Okonkwo-Offor dispute.”
“The police chained citizen Okonkwo’s hands and legs and put him in the boot of a Toyota Prado vehicle and drove him all the way from Lagos to Abuja”, she stated, adding that the international businessman was denied access to his BlackBerry phone, travelling documents and family members.
Ogala quoted Falana as saying that “it is revolting to good conscience that this primitive and sadistic treatment could be meted out to a law abiding citizen and social activist simply on the strength of a petition to the Inspector General of Police written by one Godson Ugochukwu of Fortress Chambers who was acting on his client’s (Offor’s) instructions” .
Though Okonkwo has been granted bail by Chief Magistrate Kabir Lamido of Dutse Alhaji in Kubwa in the Federal Capital Territory, after producing a surety with a landed property in Abuja and a community leader to testify to his good character, his passport is still with the police.
“This is obviously a deliberate attempt to frustrate his international business which he runs from South Africa”, argued Ogala.
-------247 U Reports