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Court orders police to return Ugolor’s property and pay him N1 million as damages

The High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State has asked the police to pay N1 million as damages to the Executive Director, African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Rev David Ugolor and immediately return his property still in custody.

Ugolor’s assets were confiscated two years ago while being investigated over his alleged involvement in the 2012 gruesome murder of the late Principal Private Secretary to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Olaitan Oyerinde.

He was kept in custody for 41 days before granted bail and later discharged and acquitted.

Ugolor had raised alarm on a number of occasions that his properties were still being held in spite of the acquittal.

Earlier, a High Court awarded N5 million as damages, which was appealed and lost. The suit, though still subsists at the Supreme Court.

Ugolor through his counsel, Olayiwola Afolabi had instituted the fresh action under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 where he sued the Nigerian Police Force, Inspector General of Police as well as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.

A copy of the judgment by Justice E.O. Ahamioje dated 13th October 2015 indicated that the police did not file any counter affidavit even after they were duly served the proceedings where Ugolor was demanding for return of his property and N10 million as damages.

The judge averred that the court was satisfied that the respondent was duly served but wondered why the respondent opted out of the proceedings.

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He thus directed “the respondents, their agents, successors, privies to release the applicant’s properties in their custody forthwith.

“I award the sum of N1 million only as exemplary and general damages against the respondents,” Justice Ahamioje ruled.

He said in line with Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution, the continued seizure of Ugolor’s property “is without probable or just, illegal, unlawful and in violation of the applicant’s right to acquire and own property.

“That the continued seizure of the applicant’s properties by the officers of the first and second respondents for over a year is without probable or just cause, illegal, unlawful and in violation of the applicant’s right to acquire property guaranteed by Section 43 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999),” the judge asserted.

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