A subscriber to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, Chidi Johnson has instituted N250 million suit against the telecommunications company before a Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria over his alleged harassment, arrest and illegal detention without a reasonable cause.
Johnson is claiming the sum as damages for the public harassment, inconvenience and loss of business he suffered as a result of his arrest and detention by the police which was allegedly instigated by MTN Nigeria Communication.
In an affidavit he sworn to and filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Onu Uche, his arrest and detention was instigated by the telecommunications company on July 17, 2018 when he visited the company’s Call Centre at No 60, Akowonjo Road, Egbeda, within Lagos metropolis to retrieve his lost MTN line.
He averred that a female customer care representative of the Defendant, Ms Monica Umukoro instead of taking his complaints as was being done with the people who had earlier been attended to, directed him to take a seat at the back of the office.
Johnson also stated that he was thereafter surrounded by the Defendant’s security officials who in the company of Ms. Umukoro, informed him that his picture in the Defendant’s computer system bore an all four resemblance to one of the defendant’s subscribers whom the defendant had been staking on its watch list to apprehend.
The claimant further alleged that he was thereafter led to the security post of one commercial bank near the defendant’s call centre, where he was detained for several hours, before he was handed over to the officers of the Gowon Estate Divisional Police Station.
He stated that at the police station, he was harassed, abused, demeaned and detained till the next day without food, medical care and reasonable cause, and was later asked to make a statement.
The claimant further stated that after investigation was conducted by the police, it was discovered that the picture on the defendant’s computer system was not his but that of some other person that purportedly bore an all four resemblance to him.
He claimed that he was then reluctantly released on bail to one Akajiaku, who acted as his surety.
Johnson also stated that after his released, he wrote a petition against the defendant through his lawyer to the Human Rights Department of the Lagos State Police Command but due to the inconclusive investigation his solicitors caused a letter of demand to be written to MTN.
But MTN in its reply absolved itself completely from the incident of his unlawful arrest, detention and harassment which was instigated by it.
The claimant is therefore seeking a declaration that his arrest, detention and public harassment by the police instigated by Ms. Umukoro, an employee of MTN is illegal, unlawful, wrongful, and amounts to an infringement of his Right to personal liberty.
He is also asking the court for a declaration that his arrest and detention was wrongful and amounts to False Imprisonment as well an an order mandating MTN to render an unreserved public apology to him in at least Two National Dailies.
MTN is yet to file a defence to the suit, which is yet to be assigned to a judge, but in its letter to the claimant, the company stated that it has a civil duty to report the suspicion of a crime to law enforcement agencies.