Court orders Anambra cleric to pay bank manager N10m over unlawful imprisonment

By: Awesome Ekene

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered one Rev. Onokogu Hezekiah, also known as Daddy Hezekiah and founder of the Living Christ Mission to pay a fine of N10 million for the false imprisonment of Dr. Hezekiah Duru, a manager at Polaris Bank.

According to the court’s judgment, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/3/2024, Rev. Hezekiah’s actions led to the arrest and detention of Dr. Duru, which resulted from allegations of financial misappropriation and breach of trust.

Dr. Duru had petitioned the court over his arrest and detention, which he claimed were unlawful and carried out under Rev. Hezekiah’s instruction, with the involvement of the Nigeria Police Force.

Justice D. Okorowo delivered the court’s decision, stating that the evidence presented established that Dr. Duru’s arrest and detention were indeed unlawful.

The court’s judgment is a significant victory for Dr. Duru, who had maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal.

Rev. Hezekiah’s legal team has not yet commented on the judgment, but it is expected that they will appeal the decision.

Delivering a judgement on the case, Justice D. Okorowo faulted the actions of Daddy Hezekiah and the Nigeria Police Force who are both respondents in the case and held that the actions implied a denial of the fundamental rights of the applicant, as the allegation was already being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)

The Federal High Court Judge also faulted the warrant order earlier obtained from the Nasarawa State Magistrate Court, describing it as unlawful, abuse of powers, judicial process and an infringement on the Applicant’s right to fair hearing, and personal liberty.

The Court held, “A declaration is made that the arrest, detention and purported investigation of the Applicant from the 11th day of December 2023 till 29th day of December 2023 by the Respondents on the petition of the 1st Respondent on an allegation of financial misappropriation/embezzlement/cheating/breach of trust already being investigated is an infringement of the Applicant’s right to personal liberty, fair hearing, right to dignity of his person as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“A declaration is made that the order/warrant for the detention of the Applicant obtained by the Respondents from the Nasarawa State Magistrate Courts is unlawful, abuse of powers, abuse of judicial process and an infringement of the Applicant’s right to fair hearing, and personal liberty.

“An Order is made directing the release of the Applicant, Amb. Dr. Hezekiah Chinenye Duru forthwith from Police custody.

“An Order of injunction is made restraining the Nigerian police and it’s officers from arresting, detaining or further violating or doing anything capable of undermining, threatening or interfering on the fundamental rights of the Applicant, His Excellency Amb. Dr. Hezekiah Chinenye Duru.

“An award of 10 Million Naira Damages jointly and severally against Rev. Onukogu and the Nigeria Police, the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police and ACP Asuqou (the officer in Charge of the Special Investigation Unit of the IGP office).”

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