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ARCHITECT M. M. PETER OGAN v. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, RIVERS STATE & ORS

(2018) LPELR-44293(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Monday, the 30th day of April, 2018

CA/PH/713/2014


Before Their Lordships

ISAIAH OLUFEMI AKEJU Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

CORDELIA IFEOMA JOMBO-OFO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

BITRUS GYARAZAMA SANGA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

ARCHITECT M. M. PETER OGAN - Appellant(s)

AND

1. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, RIVERS STATE.
2. C.S.P. CHINEDU EMENEGHA
3. EDWARD AKPA - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Powers of the Police in Civil Matters.
FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Rivers State, Port Harcourt Judicial Division, presided over by R. I. Ahiakwo J.

Appellant filed an Application by Originating Motion seeking for an Order for the enforcement of his Fundamental Right against the Respondents pursuant to Order 2 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009 and Section 315 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). In the Statement in Support of the Application, the Applicant/Appellant sought the following reliefs:
1. A DECLARATION that the arrest and further repeated invitation to the police station of the Applicant over ownership of his landed property situate at off Dr. Peter Odili Road, Trans Amadi, Port Harcourt which is a civil matter is ultra vires the powers of the 1st & 2nd Respondents and is contrary to Section 43 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; 1999; and all other extant laws.

???2. A DECLARATION that the Respondents have no power to determine ownership of landed property which is clearly outside the Police Powers vide Section 4 of the Police Act, LFN, 2004. 

3. A DECLARATION that it is only the High Court of State that has jurisdiction to determine issue of ownership of landed property in an urban area vide Section 39 of Land Use Act, 1978 as preserved in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

4. An order of INJUNCTION to issue restraining the Respondents whether by themselves, agents, or privies from any further arrest of the APPLICANT in relation to the landed property which belong to the Applicant.

5. N1,000,000 (One Million Naira) only as damages for the persistent wrongful arrest of the Applicant."

The grounds, inter alia, upon which the reliefs are based were:
i. The Respondents have no power or authority to determine a complaint relating to ownership of a landed property in an urban area in a State which is purely a civil matter outside the powers of the Police vide Section 4 of the Police Act, LFN, 2004. 
ii. The continued arrest and repeated invitation of the Applicant over civil matter is unlawful and contrary to Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Applicant is entitled to damages for the needless and wrongful arrest.

Accompanying the Originating Motion was a supporting affidavit. The 1st and 2nd Respondents filed a counter affidavit and a written address. The 3rd Respondent also deposed to a counter affidavit containing 14 paragraphs and filed a written address. On 16th June, 2012, the learned trial Judge dismissed appellant's application. Dissatisfied, appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The issues for determination in the appeal are:
"1. Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he held that the burden is on the Appellant to prove that his invitation, arrest and detention was unlawful.
2. Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he held that investigation of ownership of land in dispute was only incidental in the face of documentary evidence indicating that the dispute between the parties related to ownership of land which is civil in nature.
3. Whether from the evidence of the parties the learned trial Judge was right in dismissing the Appellant's application for enforcement of his fundamental rights."

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the appeal was allowed.


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