Reasons Court Orders Nigeria Police to Pay N2.25 Million to Ayotunde Richards


Reasons Court Orders Nigeria Police to Pay N2.25 Million to Ayotunde Richards


A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has ruled that the Nigeria Police Force must pay N2 million in aggravated and general damages to Ayotunde Richards, a gospel singer and former Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM) member, for brutality and human rights abuses. Additionally, the court awarded Richards N250,000 for legal costs.


Richards had sued the church’s General Overseer, Dr. Daniel Olukoya, and others for violating his fundamental human rights. Alongside Olukoya, other respondents included Davidson Olaniran Adejuwon Esq., Superintendent of Police Tawose Ayoleyi Ajayi, and the Nigeria Police Force.


Richards, who once led the cleric’s backup singers, accused Olukoya of orchestrating his detention at the Federal Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Alagbon, Ikoyi for eight days. He claimed his phones were confiscated and handed to Olukoya to identify perceived enemies of the church. Richards alleged that Olukoya, in collusion with Ajayi, a fellow MFM member, used his influence to facilitate the detention. He also implicated Adejuwon in the examination of his phones during his detention in July 2023.


Richards sought declarations from the court affirming his constitutional rights to personal liberty, dignity, and privacy. He argued that his arrest on July 18, 2023, and subsequent detention until July 26, 2023, were unlawful, arbitrary, and excessive. He requested a court order compelling the respondents to issue an unconditional apology for violating his right to privacy and illegally accessing his phone information.


Justice Olatokun’s ruling partially upheld Richards’ claims, confirming that his arrest and detention were unlawful. The court found that there had been no investigation prior to his arrest and that his detention violated constitutional limits. The court also dismissed the police’s claim that Richards remained in custody due to unmet bail conditions, noting the bail bond presented was incomplete and thus invalid.


However, the court determined that there was consent for the police to access Richards’ phone, thus nullifying his privacy breach claim. Ultimately, the court awarded Richards N2 million in damages and N250,000 for litigation costs, alongside an order for a public apology.


The family’s lawyer, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, acknowledged the court’s findings and noted that while some claims were not upheld, the court’s decision affirmed the police’s violation of Richards’ rights. He indicated plans to seek an appellate review.


The ruling underscores the court’s commitment to upholding citizens’ rights against unlawful detention and police misconduct.


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