CENTREP’s Executive Director, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, disclosed this in a statement signed and made available to DAILY POST in Warri on Thursday.
The group stressed that it filed a fundamental rights suit against the IGP over its refusal to render a public apology to the five journalists including Matthew Omonigho (DAILY Post Correspondent in Delta).
Onyekachukwu Meluwa (Punch Correspondent), Christopher Odamah (Delta Trumpet Correspondent), 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 the group, “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.”
The group noted that it took special interest in the case and wrote the Inspector-General of Police, IGP 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 Suit on behalf of some of the journalists at the Delta State High Court, Otor-Udu.”
The suits are, OUHC/FHR/85/2020 Mr. Onyekachuwu Meluwa VS. Inspector-General of Police & 2 ORS, OUHC/FHR/86/2020 Mr. Matthew Omonigho VS. INSPECTOR-General of Police & 2 ORS, OUHC/FHR/87/2020 Mr. Christopher Odamah VS. INSPECTOR-General of Police & 2 ORS.
As part of the reliefs sought, the group is praying the Court for, “A Declaration that the assault, beatings and arrest of the Applicant by the Respondents 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 12 midnight in their cell at the Respondents’ Police Area Command Office, Warri in lieu of a colleague and/or without any formal charge is a violation of the Applicant’s fundamental rights 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).
“An Order of this Honourable Court directing the Respondents to render an unreserved 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.
“And for such further Order or other Orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”
The group said the above suits are not aimed at disparaging the Nigeria Police Force as same is actually geared towards deepening our democracy and to further enhance our human rights culture.”