Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has awarded the owner of an orphanage N20 million in damages.
The court ordered the Rivers State Commissioner of Police and a disbanded police unit, Eagle Crack, to pay N20 million to the owner of Tender life Initiative Foundation, Chinelo Odiakosa-Mmakwe for parading her publicly and accusing her of running a baby factory.
Odiakosa-Mmakwe and her members of staff were in 2020 paraded as criminals running a baby factory.
Such ‘factories’ are usually small illegal facilities parading as private medical clinics that house pregnant women and offer their babies for sale. Some of the women are raped and/or held against their will and their babies are sold without their consent.
Odiakosa-Mmakwe had sued the police authorities for alleged violation of her fundamental rights after she was released from custody.
Justice Mohammed Abubakar in his judgement granted all the seven reliefs sought by the claimant.
The judge also condemned the police for their usual practice of parading suspects in public and allowing the media to video them.
Henry Ekine, counsel for Odiakosa-Mmakwe, expressed satisfaction with the judgement, saying, “All seven prayers were granted to the effect that the court declared the arrest and detention as illegal and a violation of her fundamental rights. The court declared the public parading of the arrestee as also a violation of the fundamental rights of those citizens. Again, a declaration was made to the effect that their dignity was actually violated.
“Once the court rules that a citizen’s right has been violated, what follows almost automatically is award of damages in compensation and that was also granted the applicants to the tune of about N20 million.”
He, however, noted that getting the police to obey the court order would be another challenge for the claimant.
Odiakosa-Mmakwe, who also spoke to journalists, said, “I am really excited that we still have a justice system in Nigeria that is responsive to the needs of the common man. For me, it is like I have been vindicated and all the character assassinations have been upturned. I am still passionate about my dream to help a lot more young women to get help irrespective of their sexual status. It is a good one for me and the development sector and the society in general.”