7 Jun 2011

Samoa police release Nigerian man held unlawfully for three months

6:31 pm on 7 June 2011

The police in Samoa have been accused of abusing their powers after a Nigerian man was kept in custody for more than three months without charges being laid.

On hearing an application by the Nigerian man, William Okoro, the court ordered his release but asked for him to remain in Samoa until his application for compensation can be heard after the state lawyers admitted the man was kept in custody unlawfully.

In 2009, Mr Okoro was charged with fraud but police failed to provide evidence.

He was ordered to be deported in February this year but his passport and travel documents which the police had kept were not found.

Mr Okoro was then issued with a certificate of identity to allow him to leave for Singapore to seek assistance from Nigeria's embassy.

But his lawyer says he could not leave because the pilot had refused to take him because he was hand-cuffed and had no clothes.

He was then taken back into police custody.

An affidavit by Mr Okoro is before the court in which he claims the police had not returned his belongings, including 4,500 US dollars.