by Stanley Azuakola
Leadership Newspapers is not taking the arrest and detention of its journalists by the police lying low.
Today, the company filed a suit at a High Court in FCT, against the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar. They are demanding the sum of N10m for breach of their fundamental human rights.
In a bizarre and controversial turn, the two detained journalists, the Group News Editor of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr. Tony Amoekedo and Correspondent Chibuzo Ukaibe were summoned alongside two others to the Force Headquarters following a story published by the paper in which they reproduced an alleged “presidential directive.”
While the other two people, Mrs Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe, former editor of the LEADERSHIP Sunday, and now executive director, human capital, and Mr Chuks Ohuegbe, managing editor have been released, the whereabouts of Amoekedo and Ukaibe remains unknown, 48 hours later.
No word on whether they are being charged, no statement from the police, nothing at all – just a detention and silence.
The Leadership newspaper considered the behaviour of the police unacceptable and so decided to sue.
The controversial presidential directive at the centre of the storm revealed a document in which the president ordered the monitoring of some politicians considered, the frustration of the opposition merger, as well as the increase of fuel pump price soon.
Aso Rock has denied that it ever issued any such directive.
In a suit filed by the Company’s counsel Ugo Udoji Esq, in the Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the applicants sought for enforcement of their fundamental human rights as guaranteed under SS. 34, 35 and 41 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria enforceable under Section 46 of the said constitution and articles 4, 5, 6, articles 9 (2) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act) and directing that the order operates as a stay against further arrest and detention of the applicants.
The filed suit read in part that:
“The manhunt for the applicants by the officers of the Nigerian Police Force, servants and agents of the Respondent over an unknown reason and their subsequent arrest and detention are illegal and in derogation of his right to dignity of human person under S. 34 of the constitution; being kept in the cell for 2 days like common criminals without being charged to court and being made to look like common criminals. They have been charged for 2 days without trial.
“The detention was in fragrant violation of their right to personal liberty under S. 35 of the constitution and Articles 4, 5, 6, articles 9 (2) of the African charter on human and people’s rights (ratification and enforcement) act.
“Other reliefs sought by the applicants are as follows:
- A declaration that the arrest and detention of the Applicants by the officers and men of the Respondent for periods ranging from 2 days without justification and the threat of continued detention or further detention of the Applicants is unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void.
- An order restraining the respondents, their agents or privies from arresting, re-arresting or detaining the applicants.
- N10m as compensation for violation of their fundamental rights.
“Facts in support and grounds as contained in the document stated that, “In the early hours of Monday 8th April, 2013 the officers and men of the Nigerian police, servants, agents and privies of the Respondents swooped on LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group Ltd at Utako and without explaining the reason therefore forcefully took into custody in an unknown location the Applicants.”