CHIMEBELE & ANOR v EDEH & ORS

CHIMEBELE & ANOR v EDEH & ORS

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
IN THE OWERRI JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT OWERRI

ON THURSDAY, 23RD MARCH, 2017


Appeal No: CA/OW/189/2014
CITATION:

Before Their Lordships:

MASSOUD ABDULRAHMAN OREDOLA, JCA

ITA GEORGE MBABA, JCA

TUNDE OYEBANJI AWOTOYE, JCA


BETWEEN

EZE OKOYE CHIMEBELE
EL-JOY GLOBAL INVESTMENT LTD

(APPELLANTS)

AND

MR. TOCHUKWU EDEH
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE (ABIA STATE)
SUPOL DONATUS AKPAR (D.P.O. C.P.S., ABA)

(RESPONDENTS)


PRONOUNCEMENTS


A. EVIDENCE
1. Affidavit Evidence – Effect of unchallenged facts in an affidavit
Effect of uncontroverted facts in an affidavit

“It is instructively significant to note, that in the instant case, the 1st Respondent deposed in Paragraphs 18 – 25 of his affidavit in support of the motion on notice, that the 1st Appellant personally brought two plain clothed Policemen on a pre-arrangement and somewhat directed them to arrest him. This fact was not denied in the Appellants’ counter-affidavit, thus, it is deemed admitted.” Per OREDOLA, JCA read in context

B. TORT
2. False Imprisonment – Procedure for deciding whether an arrest was made based on reasonable suspicion
Test to determine whether an arrest is based on reasonable suspicion

“The Supreme Court, per Lewis, JSC in the case of Oteri v. Okorodudu & Anor. (1970) ALL N.L.R. 199, (1970) LPELR-2824; succinctly enunciated on the proper procedure for determining whether a person was arrested based on reasonable suspicion, wherein the erudite jurist pronounced at pages 13 -15 as follows:

“In our view the test to be applied, with the onus of proof on a defendant seeking to justify his conduct, was laid down in 1938 by Tindal, C. J. in Allen v. Wright 8 Car. and P. 522 where he said that it must be that of a reasonable person acting without passion and prejudice.

The matter must be looked at objectively, and in the light of the facts known to the defendant at the time, not on subsequent facts that may come to light as is shown by Wright v. Sharp (1947) L. T. 308. Lord Wright in McArdle v. Egan (1933) ALL E. R. Rep. 611 at 613 showed that the responsibility is ministerial and not judicial when he said:-“It has to be remembered that Police Officers, in determining whether or not to arrest, are not finally to decide the guilt or innocence of the person arrested. Their functions are not judicial, but ministerial.”

We would also refer to the judgment of Diplock, L. J. (as he then was) in Dallison v. Caffrey (1965) I Q. B. 348 as to the question of reasonableness in a case involving both false imprisonment and malicious prosecution where at page 371 he said:-“One word about the requirement that the arrestor or prosecutor should act honestly as well as reasonably. In this context it means no more than that he himself at the time believed that there was reasonable and probable cause, in the sense that I have defined it above, for the arrest or for the prosecution, as the case may be. The test whether there was reasonable and probable cause for the arrest or prosecution is an objective one, namely, whether a reasonable man, assumed to know the law and possessed of the information which in fact was possessed by the defendant, would believe that there was reasonable and probable cause. Where that test is satisfied, the onus lies on the person who has been arrested or prosecuted to establish that his arrestor or prosecutor did not in fact believe what ex hypothesis he would have believed had he been reasonable (see Herniman v. Smith (1938) A. C. 305, 316 per Lord Atkin). In the nature of things this issue can seldom seriously arise.”

“The test of what is reasonable suspicion is not as high as establishing a prima facie as Lord Devlin in Shasban Bin Hussain v. Chong Fook Kam (1969) 3 All E. R. 1926 in an appeal from the Federal Court of Malaysia made clear in the Privy Council when he said at 1630:-

“Suspicion in its ordinary meaning is a state of conjecture or surmise where proof is lacking; I suspect but I cannot prove.’ Suspicion arises at or near the starting point of an investigation of which the obtaining of prima facie proof is the end. When such proof has been obtained, the police case is complete; it is indeed desirable as a general rule that an arrest should not be made until the case is complete. But if arrest before that were forbidden, it could seriously hamper the Police. To give power to arrest on reasonable suspicion does not mean that it is always or even ordinarily to be exercised. It means that there is an executive discretion. In the exercise of it many factors have to be considered besides the strength of the case. The possibility of escape, the prevention of further crime and the obstruction of Police enquiries are examples of those factors with which all judges that have had to grant or refuse bail are familiar.” Per OREDOLA, JCA. read in context

3. False Imprisonment – Element to be proven by the Plaintiff to succeed in an action for false imprisonment
**What a plaintiff must show to succeed in an action for false imprisonment

“It is also trite that in action for unlawful detention or false imprisonment as it applies in this case, the Plaintiff is required to prove that it was the defendant(s) who was actively instrumental in setting the law in motion against him. See Okonkwo v. Ogbogu (1996) 5 NWLR (Pt. 449) 420; Ejikeme v. Nwosu (2002) 3 NWLR (Pt. 754) 356 and Ojo v. Lasisi (2003) 7 NWLR (Pt. 819) 237.” Per OREDOLA, JCA. read in context

4. Malicious Prosecution – Liability of the party deemed to have lodged a mischievous complaint thereby setting the law in motion against the Plaintiff
****Liability of a defendant who is deemed to have set the law in motion against a plaintiff

“We have stated several times, that a mischief complainant, who lodges complaint with the police or security agencies, to get even with an opponent over a purely contractual disagreements, and causes the opponent to be arrested and detained over such civil disagreements, is liable to pay for damages accruing there-from, or adjudged thereon. See Oceanic Securities International Ltd v. Balogun & Ors (2012) LPELR 9218 (CA); (2013) All FWLR (Pt.677) 633. See also Ogbonna v. Ogbonna (2014) LPELR – 22308 (CA); (2014) 23 WRN 48, where it was held:

“Of course, a man who procures the Police to do some illicit duties for him should be ready to face the legal consequences of that illegality, and the law is well settled on this.” Udeagha vs. Nwogwugwu (2013) LPELR 21819 CA; Iwununne v. Egbuchulam & Ors (2016) LPELR 40515 CA.” Per MBABA, JCA. read in context


LEAD JUDGMENT DELIVERED BY OREDOLA, JCA


This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Abia State of Nigeria, holden at Aba (hereinafter called the lower Court), delivered on the 15th day of July, 2013 by Hon. Justice Onuoha A. K. Ogwe, J. The action which culminated in this appeal was commenced by the applicant/1st Respondent vide a motion on notice dated the 18th day of March, 2013 and filed on the 21st day of March, 2013 for the enforcement of his fundamental rights. The applicant/1st Respondent (hereinafter referred to as the 1st Respondent) by the said motion on notice sought for the following reliefs:

“(a) AN ORDER that the arrests, harassments, humiliations, molestations, torture and detention of the Applicant by the agents of the 3rd Respondent at the investigation of the 1st and 2nd Respondents without any lawful and justifiable cause is unconditional wrongful, unlawful, null, void and therefore an infringement on the Applicant’s Rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). (sic)

(b) AN ORDER that the continuous threats to arrest, humiliate, molest, torture and detain the Applicant by the agents of the 3rd Respondent is unconstitutional, wrongful, unlawful, null, void and an infringement on the Applicant’s Right as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

(c) AN ORDER compelling all the Respondents jointly and severally and particularly the 1st and 2nd Respondents to pay to the Applicant the sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) only being general and exemplary damages and/or compensation for the violation of the Applicant’s Constitutional Rights aforesaid.

(d) AN ORDER compelling the Respondents to release to the Applicant the L300 Mitsubishi Bus with Registration No. ZBL35XA (ANAMBRA) unlawfully and illegally impounded from the Applicant and kept at the Central Police Station, Aba.

(e) AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining all the Respondents neither by themselves, their agents, privies and servant from further arresting, detaining and/or infringing on the Applicant’s Rights. (sic)

AND FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDER or other Orders as the Honourable Court may deem lit to make in the circumstances.”

The motion was supported by affidavit and further affidavit, exhibits together with written address and reply on points of law.

In reply to the said motion, the 1st & 2nd Respondents/Appellants (hereinafter referred to as the Appellants) filed their counter affidavit, and supported the said counter-affidavit with several exhibits together with a written address. After due consideration of the processes placed before him, the learned trial judge entered judgment in favour of the 1st Respondent herein and ordered as follows:

“1. A Declaration that the arrest and detention of Applicant by the Police (3rd and 4th Respondents over a contract is unconstitutional, wrongful and unlawful, and a breach of his rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria.

2. An Order for Respondents jointly and severally to pay Applicant 200,000 for the said unlawful arrest and detention.

3. The Respondents are ordered to release the L.300 Mitsubishi Bus with registration No. ZBL35XA (Anambra) forthwith to Applicant.

4. The Respondents are restrained either by themselves or their agents, servants or privies from further infringing the constitutional rights of Applicant or dealing with him in any manner not provided for by law.” (See page 69 of the record of appeal.)

It is imperative to point out, that the 3rd and 4th Respondents/2nd & 3rd Respondents herein (Commissioner of Police of Abia State and Supol Donatus Akpar, Divisional Police Officer of Central Police Station, Aba) neither entered appearance in this case nor filed any process in respect thereof. Henceforth, no reference would be made to them in this judgment, unless it is essentially required. Howbeit, they would be bound by the outcome of this appeal.

The Appellants were dissatisfied with the above stated decision of the lower Court. Hence, they appealed against the same vide a notice of appeal dated and filed on the 17th day of July, 2013. The grudges nursed by the Appellants against the said judgment are contained in their three grounds of appeal, which are reproduced below without their particulars:

“i. ERROR IN LAW

The Learned trial judge erred in law when he entered judgment in favour of the Applicant without regard to the affidavit evidence as presented and canvassed before him.”

“ii. ERROR IN LAW

The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that the complaint to the police was based on the hire purchase contract between the parties.”

“iii. The judgment is against the weight of evidence.”

In prosecution of this appeal, the Appellants’ brief of argument dated the 4th day of November, 2015 was filed in the 5th day of November, 2015. It was settled by J. Olaiya Omotiba Esq. Appellants’ reply brief was also filed by the learned counsel on the 9th day of May, 2016. It was deemed by the Order of this Court as properly filed and served on the 20th day of June, 2016. On the other hand, the 1st Respondent’s brief of argument dated the 9th day of January, 2016 was filed on the 20th day of January, 2016.

The learned counsel for the Appellants in the Appellants’ brief of argument distilled two issues for the determination of this appeal. The issues are as follows:

“(i) Whether the trial Court was right to have entered judgment in favour of the Applicant/1st Respondent without regard to the Counter-Affidavit and Exhibits presented by the Appellants?

(ii) Whether from the totality of facts and evidence before the Court, it was right to conclude that the complaint to the Police was based on the hire–purchase contract inter parties?”

On his own part, the learned counsel for the 1st Respondent simply adopted the issues for the determination of this appeal as formulated by the learned counsel for the Appellants.

I have carefully analyzed the decision of the lower Court vis-à-vis the pleadings of the parties; grounds of appeal and issues formulated therefrom by the parties. I am of the firm viewpoint, that the core issue that calls for determination in this appeal is the first issue distilled by the learned counsel for the Appellants. Other matters, especially as regard the hire-purchase are ancillary and will have little or no impact with regards to the instant case. However, for clarity, I would reframe the issue as follows:

On the basis of all the pieces of evidence on record, whether the lower Court was right to hold that the Appellants together with 2nd & 3rd Respondents herein were in breach of the 1st Respondent’s fundamental rights.

LEGAL ARGUMENTS.

The learned counsel for the Appellants contended that the lower Court failed to take proper cognizance and evaluate the evidence of the Appellants as contained in their counter-affidavit and exhibits attached thereto. He submitted that once a counter-affidavit has been filed, the lower Court has the obligation of considering it before delivering its ruling or judgment. He relied on the case of Mbang v. Janet (2015) ALL FWLR (Pt. 767) 766 @ 776. Thus, he contended that the lower Court (with due respect) acted erroneously when it found the Appellants liable for unlawful arrest and detention of the 1st Respondent, because the Police ( nd & 3rd Respondents) failed to justify the arrest and detention and the crime the 1st Respondent allegedly committed. He referred as to the case of Gever v. China (1993) 9 NWLR (Pt. 315) 97.

Also, the learned counsel for the Appellants contended that, “it is the duty of every citizen of Nigeria to report cases of commission of crime to Police for their investigation and what happen thereafter is entirely the responsibilities of the Police. The citizen cannot be held liable for doing their civic duty, unless it is shown that it was done malafide.” He referred us to the cases of Mbang v. Janet, (supra); Udo v. Essien (2014) ALL FWLR (Pt. 749) 1184; Totor v. Philip Aweh (2000) 2 NWLR (Pt. 644) 309; Fawehinmi v. I. G. P. (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt. 767) 606. The learned counsel further argued that the Appellants merely and out of good faith reported the suspected illegal activities of the 1st Respondent to the 2nd & 3rd Respondents for possible investigation and had no part in the decision to arrest and detain the 1st Respondent. According to the learned counsel, “they have also not been shown to have interfered with or otherwise directed the Police investigation.” Thus, he submitted, that the lower Court (with due respect) acted wrongly when it held the Appellants responsible for the arrest and detention of the 1st Respondent.

In addition, the learned counsel for the Appellants after a lengthy analysis of the affidavit evidence on record, contended that the lower Court’s decision (with due respect) is perverse as it was not based on evidence before it. He further argued that the parties were ad idem that, the purpose for which the 1st Respondent was arrested and detained was for oil bunkering. Thus, he contended that the decision of the lower Court that the arrest and detention of the 1st Respondent by the 2nd & 3rd Respondents was based on the hire-purchase arrangement between the 1st Respondent and 2nd & 3rd Respondents was not borne out of evidence adduced before it and ought to be set aside by this Court. He referred us to the cases of Oceanic Securities International Ltd. v. Balogun (2002) ALL FWLR (Pt.643) 1880; Bunge v. Governor of River State (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 995) 573; Fabunmi v. Agbe (1985) NWLR (Pt. 2) 299. Therefore, the learned counsel for the Appellants urged this Court to resolve this issue in favour of the Appellants and allow this appeal.

In reply, the learned counsel to the 1st Respondent contended that the contention of the learned counsel for the Appellants that the Appellants’ counter-affidavit was not considered by the lower Court is totally misconceived and an attempt aimed at misleading this Court. He referred us to page 69 of the record of proceedings. He also argued that, “a clear dichotomy must be drawn between failure of Court to consider a process before it which conduces to lack of fair hearing and failure to apportion probative value to a given process”. He further contended, “That a party who intend to contest the record of proceedings must first impeach same either at the Court of first instance or the appellate Court”. We were referred to the case of Ogu Oko Memorial Farms Ltd. v. N. A. C. B. Ltd. (2008) All FWLR (Pt.419) 400 @ 402. Thus, he submitted that the contention of the learned counsel for the Appellant that the lower Court failed to consider their counter-affidavit and/or properly evaluate all the pieces of evidence contained in the counter-affidavit and the exhibits attached in support thereof, having not been borne out from records of proceedings is misconceived and ought to be discountenanced.

Also, the learned counsel for the 1st Respondent contended that the Appellants having failed to adduce credible evidence to establish that the allegation made against the 1st Respondent was based on reasonable suspicion or based on credible evidence are liable for the wrongful and unlawful arrest and detention of the 1st Respondent. He relied on the cases of Anosihile v. Soyombo (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 27) 471 @ 487; Abah v. Owei (2015) All FWLR (Pt. 780) 1343 @ 1351 and Arabambi v. Advance Beverages Industries Ltd. (2005) 24 NSCQR 520 @ 525 & 526.

In addition, the learned counsel for the 1st Respondent contended, that contrary to the argument of the learned counsel for the Appellants, that the 1st Appellant merely reported the suspected criminal activities of the 1st Respondent to the 2nd & 3rd Respondents and took no further part in the arrest and detention of the 1st Respondent; that the 1st Appellant’s deposition in Paragraph 16 (1) of the Appellants’ counter-affidavit shows clearly that the Appellant “did not only make the infamous complaint but also participated actively in ensuring the arrest of the Respondent by enticing and ensnaring him to the Police vide telling him that he want to visit his wife and new baby.” According to the learned counsel, “this cannot under any guise qualify for just making a report or complaint or indicating a person suspected of crime to the Police but also actively participating in the act of arrest and investigation which ordinarily should be left to the Police.”

Furthermore, the learned counsel for the 1st Respondent contended that the Appellants were illegally using the 2nd & 3rd Respondents as a conduit to wrongfully achieve their personal agenda of enforcing the hire-purchase contract entered into between the 1st Respondent and the Appellants; which practice is highly frowned at by law. He relied on the cases of Onyima v. Afribank Plc. (2004) 2 NWLR (Pt. 858) 654 and NDA v. Obot (2009) 10 CHR 192.

In conclusion the learned counsel for the 1st Respondent after highlighting all the pieces of affidavit evidence on record as can be gleaned from the parties’ affidavits and exhibits attached thereto; submitted that the Appellants have failed to establish their reasonable suspicion which informed their decision to put the instrument of law in motion against the 1st Respondent. Thus, he urged this Court to resolve this issue in favour of the 1st Respondent and dismiss this appeal.

At this point, it is necessary to put the facts of this case straight. The 1st Respondent herein and the Appellants entered into a hire-purchase agreement, whereby the 1st Respondent was by the terms of the contract expected to make a payment of N30,000.00 weekly for a total of 62 weeks. During the subsistence of the hire-purchase agreement, the 1st Respondent was arrested and the vehicle which forms the subject matter of the hire-purchase agreement was impounded by the 2nd & 3rd Respondents. The arrest and detention of the 1st Respondent together with the impoundment of the vehicle were based on the allegation or complaint made by the Appellants against the 1st Respondent that the 1st Respondent was using the vehicle for oil bunkering business.

The 1st Respondent denied this allegation and stated that the Appellants were trying to utilize the services of the 2nd & 3rd Respondents in enforcing the terms of the hire-purchase contract. The Appellants on their own part rebutted the 1st Respondent’s contention and restated their earlier allegation that the 1st Respondent was engaged in illegal business with the vehicle and since the vehicle was registered in their names, it is proper for them to make the report to the Police in order to avoid the consequence that may follow, if the 1st Respondent is caught in the bunkering business with the vehicle.

At this stage, the pertinent question to be asked; is whether the Appellants’ allegation against the 1st Respondent, which prompted his arrest and detention by the 2nd & 3rd Respondents was based on “reasonable suspicion” or “reasonable or probable cause”.

The Supreme Court, per Lewis, JSC in the case of Oteri v. Okorodudu & Anor. (1970) ALL N.L.R. 199, (1970) LPELR-2824; succinctly enunciated on the proper procedure for determining whether a person was arrested based on reasonable suspicion, wherein the erudite jurist pronounced at pages 13 -15 as follows:

“In our view the test to be applied, with the onus of proof on a defendant seeking to justify his conduct, was laid down in 1938 by Tindal, C. J. in Allen v. Wright 8 Car. and P. 522 where he said that it must be that of a reasonable person acting without passion and prejudice.

The matter must be looked at objectively, and in the light of the facts known to the defendant at the time, not on subsequent facts that may come to light as is shown by Wright v. Sharp (1947) L. T. 308. Lord Wright in McArdle v. Egan (1933) ALL E. R . Rep . 611 at 613 showed that the responsibility is ministerial and not judicial when he said:-

“It has to be remembered that Police Officers, in determining whether or not to arrest, are not finally to decide the guilt or innocence of the person arrested. Their functions are not judicial, but ministerial.”

We would also refer to the judgment of Diplock, L. J. (as he then was) in Dallison v. Caffrey (1965) I Q. B. 348 as to the question of reasonableness in a case involving both false imprisonment and malicious prosecution where at page 371 he said:-

“One word about the requirement that the arrestor or prosecutor should act honestly as well as reasonably. In this context it means no more than that he himself at the time believed that there was reasonable and probable cause, in the sense that I have defined it above, for the arrest or for the prosecution, as the case may be. The test whether there was reasonable and probable cause for the arrest or prosecution is an objective one, namely, whether a reasonable man, assumed to know the law and possessed of the information which in fact was possessed by the defendant, would believe that there was reasonable and probable cause. Where that test is satisfied, the onus lies on the person who has been arrested or prosecuted to establish that his arrestor or prosecutor did not in fact believe what ex hypothesis he would have believed had he been reasonable (see Herniman v. Smith (1938) A. C. 305, 316 per Lord Atkin). In the nature of things this issue can seldom seriously arise.”

“The test of what is reasonable suspicion is not as high as establishing a prima facie as Lord Devlin in Shasban Bin Hussain v. Chong Fook Kam (1969) 3 All E. R. 1926 in an appeal from the Federal Court of Malaysia made clear in the Privy Council when he said at 1630:-

“Suspicion in its ordinary meaning is a state of conjecture or surmise where proof is lacking; I suspect but I cannot prove.’ Suspicion arises at or near the starting point of an investigation of which the obtaining of prima facie proof is the end. When such proof has been obtained, the police case is complete; it is indeed desirable as a general rule that an arrest should not be made until the case is complete. But if arrest before that were forbidden, it could seriously hamper the Police. To give power to arrest on reasonable suspicion does not mean that it is always or even ordinarily to be exercised. It means that there is an executive discretion. In the exercise of it many factors have to be considered besides the strength of the case. The possibility of escape, the prevention of further crime and the obstruction of Police enquiries are examples of those factors with which all judges that have had to grant or refuse bail are familiar.”

In the instant case, the Appellants failed to state the grounds or facts supporting their allegation, before the 1st Respondent was arrested and detained by the 2nd & 3rd Respondents. I have also carefully gone through the affidavits deposed to and filed by the parties at the lower Court and I observed that the offence in respect of which the 1st Appellant reported the 1st Respondent to the Police was based on mere allegations of some unnamed persons. To make my observation clear enough, I hereby undertake to reproduce Paragraph 17 and 18 of the Appellants counter-affidavit below:

“17. That the basis of 1st Respondent’s (the 1st Appellant’s) complaint to the Police was based on several allegations and complaint against the Applicant that he was using the vehicle for bunkering business which is criminal in nature more so that the registration particulars of the vehicle still carries the particulars of the 1st & 2nd Respondents (the Appellants), Paragraph 18 -30 of the affidavit in support are hereby denied. (Brackets mine for clarification).

18. That when the Applicant eventually brought the vehicle, it was noticed that all the seats inside has been removed to allow him load Jerry cans inside the vehicle and that the spare tyre pot was replaced with a big tank and bore a hole on the floor of the vehicle leading to the tank under from where he fills the tank. The copies of photographs, taken by the Police and given to me are annexed herewith and marked Exhibit “B1.”

From the above, it is quite clear that the Appellant have no concrete or reasonable or probable cause to establish prima facie proof that the 1st Respondent was involved in criminal activities (oil bunkering). Also, the purported evidence (Exhibit B1) to which the Appellants placed their reasonable belief were obtained subsequent to the 1st Respondent’s arrest. I refer to Paragraph 18 of the 1st Respondent’s affidavit in support of the motion, wherein he stated clearly that he was arrested on the 4th day of March, 2013, while the said Exhibit B1 bore 27th day of March, 2013. (See pages 8 and 44 -46 of the record of appeal.) In the light of the above findings and in line with the authorities cited above, I am of the firm viewpoint that the report made by the 1st Appellant in respect of the 1st Respondent to the Police was made malafide and without reasonable or probable cause. It is also trite that in action for unlawful detention or false imprisonment as it applies in this case, the plaintiff is required to prove that it was the defendant(s) who was actively instrumental in setting the law in motion against him. See Okonkwo v. Ogbogu (1996) 5 NWLR ( t. 449) 420; Ejikeme v. Nwosu (2002) 3 NWLR (Pt. 754) 356 and Ojo v. Lasisi (2003) 7 NWLR (Pt. 819) 237.

It is instructively significant to note, that in the instant case, the 1st Respondent deposed in Paragraphs 18 – 25 of his affidavit in support of the motion on notice, that the 1st Appellant personally brought two plain clothed Policemen on a pre-arrangement and somewhat directed them to arrest him. This fact was not denied in the Appellants’ counter-affidavit, thus, it is deemed admitted. Also, in corroboration of the above stated fact, the 1st Appellant admitted in Paragraph 16 (1) of his counter-affidavit as follows:

“i. That the Applicant (1st Respondent) did not willingly honour the invitation or was coming to pay his installment but rather came because the 1st Respondent informed him that he want to visit his wife and new born baby.” (Bracket mine for clarification).

The above admission must have impinged on and demolished every contention of the Appellants’ counsel that the Appellants were not instrumental to the arrest and detention of the 1st Respondent. What a subterfuge and display of subterranean influence, engendered to ensnare and or entrap the 1st Respondent!

Based on all that have been said above, I have no difficulty in agreeing with the learned trial judge that the 1st Respondent has successfully proved his case and thus entitled to the reliefs granted to him by the lower Court. Hence, this issue is resolved in favour of the 1st Respondent. Having resolved the sole issue formulated for the determination of this appeal in the manner stated above, this appeal is adjudged by me to have lacked merit and it is accordingly dismissed. Consequently, I affirm the decision of the Abia State High Court, delivered on the 15th day of July, 2013 by Hon. Justice Onuoha A. K. Ogwe, J. in respect of Suit No. A/M54/2013. Costs in the sum of N50, 000.00 is hereby awarded in favour of the 1st Respondent herein.

MBABA, JCA.

I had the privilege of reading the draft of the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, M. A. Oredola JCA and I agree with his reasoning and conclusions, that the appeal lacks merit.

We have stated several times, that a mischief complainant, who lodges complaint with the police or security agencies, to get even with an opponent over a purely contractual disagreements, and causes the opponent to be arrested and detained over such civil disagreements, is liable to pay for damages accruing there-from, or adjudged thereon. See Oceanic Securities International Ltd v. Balogun & Ors (2012) LPELR 9218 (CA); (2013) All FWLR (Pt.677) 633. See also Ogbonna v. Ogbonna (2014) LPELR – 22308 (CA); (2014) 23 WRN 48, where it was held:

“Of course, a man who procures the Police to do some illicit duties for him should be ready to face the legal consequences of that illegality, and the law is well settled on this.” Udeagha vs. Nwogwugwu (2013) LPELR 21819 CA; Iwununne v. Egbuchulam & Ors (2016) LPELR 40515 CA.

I too dismiss the appeal and I abide by the consequential orders in the lead judgment.

AWOTOYE, JCA.

I had the privilege of reading the draft of the judgment just delivered by my learned brother MASSOUD ABDULRAHMAN OREDOLA (JCA). I am in full agreement with the reasoning and conclusion therein. This appeal lacks merit I also dismiss it. I abide by the consequential orders in the leading judgment (including costs).