Justice Ntong Ntong of the Akwa Ibom State High Court in Ikot Ekpene has ordered the State Government to pay N2m for the rehabilitation of a 28-year-old man, Idaraobong Sunday Dickson, for making him suffer in prison for eight good years, over allegation of armed robbery and rape, which he was not involved in.
Ntong gave the order on Friday while ruling in a case between the State against Idaraobong Sunday Dickson and three others standing trial since 2015 on a six-count charge of conspiracy to commit a felony, robbery, armed robbery and rape.
Justice Ntong, who discharged and acquitted Idaraobong Sunday Dickson, having found him not guilty, however, convicted and sentenced the two other defendants, Nsikak Godwin to 20 years in prison and Christopher Sunday, 16 years in prison, with jail terms to run concurrently from 22nd June 2015.
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In a one-hour judgement, the Court also ordered the “Nigeria Police Force to apologize to Idaraobong Sunday Dickson either in a national newspaper or privately in a special letter addressed to the defendant for unlawful arrest.”
Justice Ntong said the evidence before the Court shows that, Idaraobong Sunday Dickson, a native of Ikot Ada Utor in Midim, Abak Local Government Area, has no case to answer, as there was no evidence linking him with the commission of the alleged offences.
The Court advised, “Akwa Ibom State Government, particularly the Attorney General of the State and the Director of Public Prosecutions, to always supervise the activities of lawyers in the Attorney General’s Office and the Nigeria Police Force to caution its officers to treat civil populace with dignity and respect.”
According to the Court, “the Police or the State, prosecuting a person suspected of committing a crime, ought to be diligent and sure of their facts, before charging the person to Court.”
Justice Ntong wondered how “the life of Idaraobong Sunday Dickson, a phone battery charger and recharge card seller in Ikot Ekpene, who was toiling day and night to make ends meet, is truncated by Police shoddy investigation.”
He said a situation where the accused is made to suffer unjustly is tantamount to the unjust treatment of an innocent citizen who has wasted his youthful years in prison for an offence he did not know.
The Court held that “if the State Officials and officers of the Nigeria Police Force had done due diligence in their investigation, the ugly situation would have been duly averted.”
Justice Ntong said he is “emboldened to make the order by the virtue of his inherent powers, pursuant to section 6 (6) of the 1999 Constitution.
Akinshola Akintelure is a Content Writer, a tech savvy and Social Media Manager.