Kogi NUJ Sues DSS for Unlawful Detention of Journalist

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Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kogi State Council yesterday dragged the Department of State Services (DSS) to the Federal High Court in Lokoja over unlawful arrest of its member, Mr. Friday Ogungbemi.

Ogungbemi, a Kogi-based journalist and publisher was arrested and detained by the DSS on November 30, for alleged offensive publication in the November 23 to December 15, 2016 edition of the Policy and Lawmakers magazine.

The NUJ which filed the suit on behalf of the journalist, is seeking the enforcement of his fundamental human rights and as well, N5 million damages arising from the unlawful incarceration and infringement on his fundamental rights.

The NUJ counsel, J.U. Usman, filed the motion on notice pursuant to Order 2 Rule (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, Section 35(4) and 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution in respect of the suit.

Usman sought four reliefs including an order enforcing the journalist’s rights to personal liberty, freedom of movement and fair hearing being violated by the respondent since November 30.

The Union also sought an order of the court to enforce the rights being infringed upon by the respondent’s continued detention of Ogungbemi at the DSS detention facility and custody “which is unreasonable, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.”

The NUJ also claimed the sum of N5 million only as compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention and asked for further order(s) the court might consider just and appropriate to make for the redress of the infringement of his rights.

The reliefs, accordingly to the counsel, are based on three grounds including: That the applicant had no criminal records and that his arrest and continued detention over the publication in the Policy and Lawmakers magazine was unreasonable, illegal and unconstitutional.

He also held that there was a competent court of jurisdiction within 16-kilometer radius from the detention facility of the respondent wherein the applicant was detained but the respondent refused or neglected to charge him to court within the constitutional period.

The motion was supported by a seven-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one T.S. Luka Esq. of J.U. Usman and Co. law firm, Lokoja.

In the written address in support of the applicant’s Motion on Notice, the counsel raised two issues for determination.

They include whether the arrest and continued detention of the applicant is not a violation of his rights to personal liberty, freedom of movement and fair hearing and whether the applicant is not entitled to the compensation claimed therein.