N544m debt: Court dismisses bizman’s suit against Police, Ecobank

Justice Chukwujekwu Joseph Aneke of Lagos Federal High Court, has dismissed a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a businessman, Mr. Christian Ifeanyichukwu, against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP); one inspector Samuel Iyucume; Ecobank Nigeria Plc and Eti Specialized Resolution Company Limited (ESRCL).

Justice Aneke apart from dismissing Ukata’s suit against the Bank and others, for lacking in merit, also awarded the sum of N200, 000, 00 against him in favour of Ecobank Nigeria Plc and ESRCL.

Ukata through his lawyer, C. I. Ugwuanyi, had dragged all the respondents before the court, for being detained beyond prescribed constitution period.

Ukata had alleged that the men of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (ForceCID), Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos, detained him from October 31, 2020 till November 1, 2020, while his surety, one Chigozie Amajuoyi, was detained from March 19, 2020 till March 27, 2020, over a contractual matter between him and Ecobank Nigeria Plc.

The act he claimed to have been in breach of his fundamental rights.

In response to Ukata’s allegations, the ForceCID, through one of its legal officer, Barrister Morufu A. Animashaun, had told the court that the applicant was arrested and interrogated over allegations of  conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, fraud, forgery and stealing of the sum of N544,459,359 million, made against him and his company, UCCAS Resources Limited, by ETI Specialized Resolutions Company Limited.

Animashaun had also told the court that upon conclusion of investigation on the said allegations by a team led by Inspector Samuel Iyucume, the applicant  was invited on October 31, 2020 and released on November 1, 2020. Adding that there  was no time he was torture, detained or subjected to any inhumane or degrading treatment.

Animashaun therefore urged the court to dismiss the application in its entity.

Also, counsel to Ecobank Plc and ESRCL, N. K. Oragwu, in response to the applicant’s suit, told the court that his clients’ petition to the police against the applicant, was sequel to his inability to repay his a debt sum of N544,459,359.01 million to Ecobank Plc, despite several and repeated demands for repayment.

He told the court that his clients’ petition to the police against the applicant, was when all efforts to locate the applicant and make him to attend meeting at Lands Bureau proved abortive and upon reasonable suspicion of a crime as regerds to the fraudulent C of O, which he used to obtained the unpaid loan from Ecobank Plc.

Oragwu equally asked the court to dismiss the suit in its entity.

Delivering judgement in the suit Justice Aneke held that: “I have read and summarized the facts presented by the applicant and the respondents. I have also read the contents of exhibits attached. 

“After going through all the above, this court has no doubt that the first and second respondents were genuinely conducting an investigation into how the applicant procure the counterpart of Certificate of Occupancy dated July 31, 1987 and registered as 21/21/1987c, issued in the name of Gabriel Emmanuel Umodem, which he used as mortgage for the loan granted to his company, UCCAS Limited, and the real identity Gabriel Emmanuel Umodem.

“I therefore hold that the police, through the first and second Respondents, were carrying out their statutory duties when they launched investigation into the complaint made to them through Exhibit F by the third and fourth Respondents. 

“Having considered the provision in relation to the facts of this case I am of the opinion that the Applicant’s fundamental right was not breached by the Respondents. The applicant in his affidavit in support of the application for the enforcement of his fundamental rights made allusion to breach of the fundamental rights on one Chigozie Amojuoyi, his surety. The said Chigozie Amajuoyi is not party to this proceedings. His rights cannot be decided in his absence unless he is joined as a party. 

“The result is that this application for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the Applicant lacks merit and is hereby accordingly dismissed in its entirety”.

Justice Aneke further awarded the sum of N200,000,00 against the applicant in favour of the Ecobank Plc and ESRCL.

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