Lagos NUJ Petitions IGP Over Illegal Detention Of Journalist
The Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase over the detention of one its members, Yomi Olomofe.
Olomofe, who had been having a running battle with the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) was invited to the police office in Panti, Lagos, for clarification on the matter, but rather than being questioned on the purpose of the visit, was on Thursday detained.
Olomofe, who doubles as the editorial board chairman of Badagry Prime News, was later moved to the Alagbon command in Ikoyi area of the state.
In the petition written by the union’s lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, the NUJ and Olomofe are seeking for a public apology, assurance of Olomofe’s safety, N100million compensation for breach of fundamental rights.
In the said petition, Ogunye wrote that Olomofe has, again, been admitted to the hospital for urgent medical attention and that the shock of his latest harassment has caused him a fresh psychological breakdown and emotional distress, as he has been told by his doctors that he has relapsed into a state of depression with his blood pressure alarmingly high.
“The Nigeria Police Force, under your watch, has done nothing to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act of attempted murder to justice for nine (9) months is a monumental scandal. But that our client could be framed up and the Police Force, who ought to be his “friend”, could be a willing ally or tool of persecution in the hands of those who are still hell-bent on eliminating our client, is worse than a scandal. It is an unmitigated tragedy of policing and law-enforcement in Nigeria”. the petition read in part
Continuing, the petition said, “Our position is that although the Police is vested with powers of arrest and detention under the Police Act, Criminal Procedure Act, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos, 2011, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, there is no lawful excuse or justification for the arrest and detention of our client, his release from Police custody within 24 hours in seeming compliance with the provision of Section 35 of the Constitution, notwithstanding. Our client’s rights to the dignity of the human person and personal liberty, guaranteed by Sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution, have been violated. And his right to freedom of expression and the press under Section 39 of the same Constitution, as a practicing journalist, who is being cowed, intimidated and harassed;in order to compel him into self-censorship, is implicated”.
The NUJ lawyer stated that in the circumstances, the union request, that the Nigeria Police Force refrain from further violating the rights of our client, at the instance of his assailants and tormentors, as described above.
According to Ogunye, “Now that the Nigeria Police Force has not only refused to investigate the complaint of our client, with a view to bringing those who intended and attempted to murder him to justice, but also has joined in the abuse of our client’s fundamental human rights, the Nigeria Police Force and the Inspector-General of Police should assure our client, and his family of their continued safety. The Nigeria Police Force should investigate the dormant complaint of our client, and bring his assailants, who are still threatening his life, to justice.”
He wrote that for the aforementioned violation of his rights, the Nigeria Police Force should pay the sum of N100 million damages to his client, within 21 days of delivery of this petition; and
The petition stated that the IGP on behalf of the Nigeria Police Force, should, within 21 days of delivery of this petition, tender a public apology to our client and the apology should be published in three national newspapers, for the aforesaid violation of our client’s fundamental rights.
It added that if the Police Force refuses, neglects or fails to comply with the demands made herein, within 21 days of delivery of this letter, a legal action shall be instituted against the Nigeria Police Force and the office of the IGP to secure the enforcement of the fundamental rights of our client, in a court of law with requisite jurisdiction.