Duties of the Police under the constitution does not include inflicting pain… – Court orders Customs to pay Lawyer N5million

…The court has held that the Police and law enforcement agencies can carry out their duties within the confines of the 1999 Constitution. But not for the purpose of inflicting pain on an individual…


Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Nigeria Customs Services to pay a Nigerian Lawyer the sum of Five Million Naira for assault and harassment.

Judgment was delivered by Honourable Justice Emeka Nwite on the17th May, 2023 at about 10:30am on the matter between Kolawole Isaac v. Nigerian Custom Service & 2 Ors.

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On the 8th Day of September, 2021, some Customs offficers were caught on a trending video clip assaulting a lawyer, Kolawole Issac in their Headquarters in Abuja.

The Nigeria Bar Association under an adhoc committee headed by Chief JK Gadzama took up the matter matter and briefed Dr Kayode Ajulo who on behalf of the victim sued the Customs under Order 2 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Right 2009 and Article 3, 4 & 5 of the African Charter on human and people’s right.

In delivering the judgment today, the Court acknowledged that the onus is on the applicant to prove that his right was breached. Thereafter stated that it was proven via a recorded clip marked as Exhibit C. The court further mentioned the processes filed by both parties and read out their arguments respectively. He specifically laid down the reliefs sought by the applicant and categorically pinned the resolution to each of the reliefs.

The court held that, the Police and law enforcement agencies can carry out their duties within the confines of the 1999 Constitution. But not for the purpose of inflicting pain on an individual; especially in this case where a lawyer who was carrying out his professional duty within the bounds of law should not have been assaulted in that circumstance. The court further disagreed with the 1stRespondent who claimed that a Custom Officer has a right to manhandle a person who proves stubborn or tries to obstruct their duties.
The law is settled; every individual is entitled to their fundamental rights as stipulated in Chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution and should be able to enforce it under the law. The court holds that the applicant was treated in an inhuman and degrading manner. So therefore, “where there is a breach they must be a remedy”, in other words; UBI JUS REMEDUIM wherein sighted the case of Agbo v. A.G Federation.

The court made the following ORDERS:
• An ORDER of this Honourable court stating the arrest and detention by the custom officers against the applicant is unlawful and illegal.
• The court hereby declares that the phone which was destroyed was unlawful.
• An ORDER of this Honourable Court retraining the 1stRespondent from further assaulting the Applicant.
• An ORDER directing the 1st respondent to publish an apology on two daily Newspapers
• An ORDER granting the sum of 5 million naira to be awarded as damages for the applicant payable jointly by the 1st and 2nd Respondent.
• An ORDER for the sum of hundred thousand naira only to be paid in favour of the applicant for cost of litigation.

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