Court directs IGP to apologise to journalists over assault, awards N350k damage

Justice Roli Daibo Harriman of the Otor-Udu high court in Udu local government area of Delta State has directed the Inspector General of Police, IGP, to apologize to three Delta based journalists over the violation of their fundamental human rights.

The judge also awarded the sum of N350, 000 against the police as damages suffered by the applicants in the hands of the respondents. The journalists; Matthew Omonigho (Daily Post Online Correspondent), Onyekachukwu Meluwa (Punch Correspondent) and Christopher Odamah (Delta Trumpet Correspondent), are among the five journalists who were arrested and detained at the Police Area Command, Warri on May 26th, 2020 from 4:30 pm to 12 a.m without any formal charge and in lieu of one of their colleague.

Angered by the treatment meted out on the journalists, rights activist and executive director of the Center for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged, CENTREP, Oghenejabor Ikimi, had slammed a N10 million suit against the police with the IGP, Mohammad Adamu, DCP Abba Kyari (O/C IGP Monitoring Unit, Abuja) and Detective Reuben Noah acting as respondents in the suit.

In her ruling, the presiding judged declared that the assault, beatings and arrest of the applicants by the respondents on Tuesday, the 26th day of May 2020 in lieu of a colleague and without any formal charge is a violation of the fundamental rights of the applicants to freedom from inhuman treatment, right to liberty and right to private and family life as guaranteed by Sections 34(1), 35(1) and 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

She said: “The respondents including the Inspector General of Police are to publish an apology to the applicants within 14 days hereof in the Vanguard newspaper, the Nation newspaper and Daily Post newspaper respectively, and the sum of N350,000.00 only as damages against the respondents including the Inspector General of Police jointly and severally.”

Speaking on the ruling, counsel to the journalists, said: “The above suits were not aimed at disparaging the Nigeria Police Force as an institution but were actually geared towards deepening our democracy and to further enhance our human rights culture.”

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