The Federal High Court, Abuja, has awarded a N1 million fine against the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission for the unlawful detention of former Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Dibu Ojerinde.
In the ruling, Justice Obiora Egwuatu also awarded the sum of N200,000 as a fine against the ICPC as Ojerinde’s cost of instituting the suit.
Justice Egwuatu held that it was undisputed that there was a pending charge against the ex-JAMB boss bordering on conspiracy to sell, sale of forfeited property, and multiple identity cards with different names against Ojerinde.
He, however, held that Ojerinde is presumed innocent until he has been proven guilty.
He held that although there was a fresh charge against the professor and his arraignment before a sister court was thwarted because of the court vacation and non-sitting of court, detaining him without an order of detention for the duration of custody was a violation of his fundamental rights.
More so, the justice held that though the rearrest of the ex-JAMB boss on January 26 was lawful based on the search warrant obtained from the chief judge of the court, the anti-graft commission ought to have obtained a detention warrant since Ojerinde would not be immediately arraigned.
Following, he declared that Ojerinde’s continued detention was unlawful, illegal and a breach of his right to liberty.
He, therefore, ordered that the embattled former JAMB registrar be released or arraigned immediately.
However, the court held that the applicant had been unable to prove that his right to dignity of person was breached by the ICPC, as he failed to prove that he was either tortured or brought into forced slavery, among others.
Justice Egwuatu, who ordered the ICPC to pay the sum of N1 million as damages for the breach of his fundamental right to liberty, directed the commission to pay him N200,000 as the cost of the suit.
He, however, did not grant the other reliefs sought.
Ojerinde, in the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/179/2023 filed before Justice Egwuatu, had sought an order to enforce his fundamental rights, following his re-arrest on January 26 within the court premises and his subsequent detention.
The applicant sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the anti-graft agency and its officers from arresting or detaining him on account of the suit for which he was facing a criminal charge or to file an amended charge.
Among others, he also sought an order directing the commission to pay him the sum of N500 million only, as exemplary damages for the breach of his rights to personal liberty, freedom of movement, the dignity of the human person and the presumption of innocence as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The ICPC had dragged the ex-JAMB boss before Justice Egwuatu in an 18-count money-laundering suit.
He was accused of diverting public funds to the tune of N5 billion.
Ojerinde was, however, re-arrested on January 26 by the operatives of the anti-graft commission while he was heading to his car with one of his sons after Justice Egwuatu adjourned further proceedings in the charge preferred against him.