The Federal High Court in Abuja has awarded the sum of N40 million in damages against Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, for unlawfully arresting and detaining Audu Maikori.
Also affected in the judgement are the Inspector General of Police, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police and the State Attorney General.
John Tsoho, the presiding Jjdge, awarded the costs as compensation for Maikori’s “unlawful arrest and detention” between February 17 and 18, and between March 10 and 13, 2017.
He also ruled that the respondents must pay the sum of N1,430 to the applicant as the cost of instituting the suit.
The judgement followed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Maikori on May 5, 2017 following his arrest and detention by the Kaduna State Police Command.
Maikori, a lawyer turned businessman and owner of Chocolate City Entertainment, was arrested in Februaryfor circulating a false report on the social media about an attack by Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna.
“My driver’s younger brother and five other students of college of education Gidan Waya were ambushed and killed by herdsmen yesterday #SouthernKaduna,” Maikori tweeted on January 23.
“They were in a commercial car going back to school when the driver stopped suddenly under the pretext of checking his engine.
“As soon as the car stopped the attackers shot all 6 students but let the driver who is Fulani go. He gave us these details.
“When we speak we are viewed as trouble makers by the Govt. Well I have seen the pictures and it’s a painful sight.”
The tweets went viral, as many of Maikori’s followers on twitter retweeted the story, and even some online news platforms published it.
But the story turned out to be false as the said College of Education released a statement denying any such attack on any of its students.
Maikori immediately issued an apology and pulled the earlier story down.
“I hereby tender an unreserved and sincere apology to the Management of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, His Excellency the Governor of Kaduna State and the Kaduna State Government, and also to the people of Southern Kaduna and the Fulani community and also VANGUARD newspapers whose source was my driver for the false statement by my driver which I also publicized believing same to be true,” he wrote on February 4.
But el-Rufai would have none of it, insisting that Maikori must be punished for trying to incite the public.
Maikori was arrested in Lagos and transferred to Kaduna, where he spent days in police custody before the case was transferred to court.
He was later granted bail on “very liberal terms” while the case was still on going.
Justice Tsoho, in his ruling on Friday, noted that his verdict does not preclude the ongoing trial of Maikori in Kaduna.