Can Mr. Atoki sue the Nigerian Police Force for Assault?

Can Mr. Atoki sue the Nigerian Police Force for Assault?

The Lagos-Ibadan was so clumsy this very morning. Mr. Israel Atoki was rushing down from Ibadan to the Redemption Camp along Lagos where the Choir invited him to beat the drums at the 48hours praise Service. He had dozed off in the bus when the siren being blasted by a patrol van in the convoy of the Commissioner of Police woke him up.
The patrol van attempted to overtake the bus Mr. Atoki boarded when it faced an oncoming trailer with a heavy speed on the other side of the road. The driver of the patrol van almost lost control and broke the side mirror of the bus whilst trying to avoid a fatal accident.
Within a twinkle of an eye, one of the policemen jumped down from the patrol van. “Mr. Man! Come down!! You must be mad!!! I don’t know why you bloody fools don’t have respect for constituted authorities”, he shouted while pointing at Mr. Atoki. Everybody in the bus was still trying to understand what was happening when he hit the windscreen close to Mr. Atoki with a stick. He was so scared to the extent that he thought he had lost his mind.
The grievance of the policeman was that Mr. Atoki was looking at them contemptuously because they almost had an accident instead of praying for them. Mr. Atoki apologised to the policeman that he meant no harm but took down his Name and Force Number. “I won’t lose my focus because of them but I will teach the Nigerian Police Force and, in particular, that policeman a lesson”. Mr. Atoki sworn.
People in the bus wondered what he was going to do; the stick did not even touch him and the bus driver did not complain about his broken windscreen.

Points to Note:
1. A trespass(wrong) can be committed against a person in any of the following forms:
(i) Battery
(ii) Assault
(iii) False imprisonment.
NB: Battery and Assault are of relevance in this instance.
2. Battery is the intentional and direct application of force to another person. For example, hitting another person with a stone may amount to battery.
3. Assault is an act of the defendant which causes to the plaintiff reasonable apprehension of the infliction of a battery on him. In other words, the “fear” caused to the person is the assault.
4. To establish a case for battery, the following elements must be proven:
(i) an act by a defendant;
(ii) an intent to cause harmful or offensive contact on the part of the defendant; and
(iii) harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff.
(5) To establish a case for assault, the following elements must be proven:
(i) intent- that the defendant had the intention.
(ii) apprehension of a harmful contact, and
(iii) causation -that the harm was caused by the defendant.
(6) Battery may sometimes include assault. For example, if Mr. Y hits Mr. Z on the face and the latter experienced the shock before he was finally hit.
(7) There may be Battery without assault. For instance, a blow from behind inflicted by an unseen assailant.
(8) Assault may also occur without battery. For instance, when Mr. A attempts to hit Mr. B with a blow but the latter successfully dodges it. Pointing a toy gun at a person also amounts to assault without battery.
(9) Note that it is not all cases of assault and battery that are entertained by the court. This is because court is not a playing ground and does not entertain trifles.
From the laws, it is evident that the Nigerian Police Force and, particularly, the said policeman can be liable for assault against Mr. Atoki. The Policeman intentionally hit the windscreen and cause him apprehension.
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede

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