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Court Awards ₦5m Damages Against EFCC For Wrongly Parading Photographer As Fraudster

The court declared that the EFCC should remove the image and name of the applicant wrongly labelled as a fraudster from its Instagram page and other social media platforms.


File photo of EFCC operatives

 

Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has awarded the sum of N5m as damages against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for wrongfully parading a photographer named Nasiru Saidu Ali (Kozzo) as a fraudster.

In the Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/714/2019, the court also ordered the respondent (EFCC) to tender public apology on its online social media platforms, particularly Instagram, to the applicant (Ali).

The incident happened in May 2019 when the photographer was wrongfully arrested from his Abuja home and his photos splashed on the social media accounts of the EFCC alongside those of other alleged internet scammers. He was later released after his innocence was established but Ali dragged the anti-graft agency to court for criminal defamation of his character.

The photographer, through his lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, had demanded N100m damages from the EFCC but after five years, the court, in a judgment delivered on Friday, March 22, 2024, awarded N5m damages against the EFCC and ordered the anti-graft agency to tender a public apology to the photographer.

The court declared that the wrongful publication of the applicant’s image and name on the respondents social media platforms holding the applicant’s to the public as a fraudster by the respondents is unlawful, unconstitutional and a flagrant breach of the applicant’s fundamental right to privacy as enshrined in Section 37 respectively of the 1999 Constitution and relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

The court declared that the EFCC should remove the image and name of the applicant wrongly labelled as a fraudster from its Instagram page and other social media platforms.

The court also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC from holding the applicant as a fraudster without judgement of a court of competent jurisdiction.

“An order of this Honourable Court is hereby granted directing the respondent to pay the applicant the sum of N2,500,00 as exemplary and punitive damages for the unlawful publication of the applicant image on the respondent Instagram, amounting to a breach of his fundamental rights to privacy.

“An order of this Honourable Court is hereby granted directing the respondent to pay the applicant the sum of N2,500,000 as general damages for loss suffered herein, amounting to a breach of his fundamental rights.

“An order of this Honourable Court is hereby granted directing that the respondents tender public apology on their online social media platforms to the applicant,” read the Certified True Copy of the judgement.

Reacting to the ruling, Olajengbesi reiterated that it is unlawful and amount to abuse of powers for the EFCC to publicise images of individuals arrested for alleged crimes when such persons have not been convicted by court.

The lawyer said his firm, Law Corridor, took up the photographer’s case pro bono, and after extensive legal proceedings before the Federal High Court, Abuja, justice was finally served.

He said even though his client asked for 100m, the court awarded 5m and also grant perpetual order against EFCC from arresting the photographer again.