A Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State on Friday ordered Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to unseal the business premises of one Chief Uche Obi over the alleged sale of substandard products.
The court also ordered the agency to pay the plaintiff N2 million for damages and publicly apologise to him for unlawfully sealing his business premises some 10 months ago.
Delivering his judgment on the suit filed in November 2021, Justice Simon Amobeda held that the invitation, arrest, and detention of the applicant by the officers of SON (the respondent) for a purely civil and business transaction that had no criminality whatsoever were violative and in the negation of the dignity of his person, as guaranteed and preserved in Section 34 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), as well as Article 5 of the African Charter on Human Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
He also ordered the respondent to issue a public apology to the applicant via two widely circulated national dailies – preferably the Guardian and Punch – within 48 hours for the violation of the fundamental human rights of the applicant.
“That, the respondent shall pay the sum N2,000,000.00 in favour of the applicant as compensation/damages for the breach of his fundamental rights, as preserved under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and the African Charter Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Art, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” a court document read.
“That, without prejudice to any investigation being carried out by the respondent, the respondent shall within 48 hours of service of this order upon them, cause the office and business premises of the applicant to be unsealed.
“That, the respondent, their agents, privies and anyone, howsoever called are restrained from further inviting, arresting, detaining or threatening to arrest the applicant in connection with this matter.”
The applicant, in an interview with Channels TV, recounted the losses he incurred since officials of the agency sealed his business premises for selling substandard building materials – allegations which he has now been acquitted of by the court.
He was, however, grateful that he has been vindicated, saying he would always seek redress legally should SON go contrary to the orders of the court.