DELTA, Nigeria – The State High Court sitting in Otor-Udu in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State has ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, DCP Abba Kyari, O/C IGP Monitoring Unit and Detective Reuben Noah to pay DAILY POST Newspaper Correspondent in Delta State, Mr. Matthew Omonigho and two other Journalists, Mr. Onyekachukwu Meluwa and Mr. Christopher Odamah that were unlawfully arrested and detained by his (IGP Monitoring Unit),the sum of three hundred and fifty thousand naira as damages over their unlawful arrests and detention.
The Court Presided over by Hon. Justice Roli Daibo Harriman (Mrs.), handed down the order on August 17.
A copy of the judgement was obtained by Our Correspondent.
In the judgment, the Court also ordered the IGP and the others to render apology to the three Journalists in three national dailies including the Vanguard, the Nation and DAILY POST Newspapers respectively within the fourteen days.
The three journalists, Mr. Matthew Omonigho, Onyekachukwu Meluwa and Christopher Odamah had separately approached the court for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights through their Counsel, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi Esq seeking for ten million naira each as damages in Suit No: OUHC/FHR/85/2020, OUHC/FHR/86/2020 and OUHC/FHR/87/2020 respectively.
But the court in its judgment said, “In the circumstances, I find that the actions of the respondents were calculated and did breach the fundamental rights of the Applicant and he is entitled to compensation.
“Consequently, judgment is entered in favour of the Applicant as follows.
” The assault, beatings and arrest of the applicant by the respondent on Tuesday, the 26th day of May 2020 at the Press Centre of the Warri Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Warri and the subsequent detention of the Applicant by the Respondents from 4:30pm till midnight in their cell at the Respondent’s Police Area Command Office Warri is a violation of the Applicant’s fundamental 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.
“The Respondents are to publish an apology to the Applicant within 14 days hereof in the Vanguard Newspaper, the Nation Newspaper and DAILY POST Newspaper respectively.
“The sum of N150,000.00(One hundred and fifty thousand naira) only as damages against the Respondents jointly and severally.
“An order of this honorable Court directing the Respondents to render an apology to the Applicant in three National dailies I.e, the Vanguard Newspaper, the Nation Newspaper and DAILY POST Newspaper respectively.
“The sum of N10,000,000.00(Ten million Naira) as damages against the Respondents jointly and severally over their above unconstitutional acts.”
Counsel to the three journalists, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi Esq in a statement confirmed the report as he hailed the Court for the sound judgment.
Ikimi, who is also the Executive Director of the Centre for the Vulnerable & the Underprivileged, CENTREP, said, “The above suits were not aimed at disparaging the Nigeria Police Force as an institution but was same is actually geared towards deepening our democracy and to further enhance our human rights culture.”
The legal practitioner noted that, Mr. Matthew Omonigho (DAILY POST),
Onyekachukwu Meluwa (Punch),
Christopher Odamah (Delta Trumpet),
Edeki Igafe (NAN Correspondent) and Francis Sadhere (Business Day Correspondent) were arrested and detained at the Police Area Command, Warri from 4:30pm to 12 midnight by Men of the IGP Monitoring Unit, Abuja led by one Detective Rueben Noah without any formal charge and in lieu of one of their colleague for no just cause.
According to Ikimi, “Pursuant to the intervention of the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Inuwa Hafiz and others, the said five journalists were released on administrative bail at about 12 midnight same day.
“Owing to the above development, the Centre for the vulnerable and the underprivileged Centrep took a special interest in the case of the above journalists and did write the Inspector General of Police on the issue, demanding a public apology to be rendered forthwith by the Police High Command to the said journalists, but same was to no avail.
“Following the refusal of the Police High Command to render a public apology to the said journalists, Centrep filed the below mentioned fundamental rights Suits on behalf of three of the journalists at the Delta State High Court, Otor-Udu.”