Federal High Court Adjourns Journalist’s Suit over Assault and Torture for Hearing

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Ms Obioma Okonkwo
MRA’s Head of Legal Dept

A Federal High Court in  Lagos has fixed April 20, 2023 for hearing in an application for the enforcement of fundamental human rights filed by a reporter with The Guardian newspaper, Mr. Eniola Daniel, against a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Mr. Shola Jejeloye, chairman of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit and others. In the suit in which the Lagos State Commissioner of Police; the Inspector General of Police; and the Governor of Lagos State are also named as respondents,. Mr.Danielis contending that an attack on him by men of the Environmental Offences Taskforce on February 28, 2021 violated his rights to human dignity, freedom of expression and freedom from compulsory acquisition of his property as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.

Mr. Eniola Daniel, a reporter with the Guardian Newspaper on August 10, 2021, commenced an action against the respondents in respect of an incident which occurred on February 28, 2021 where he contended that his rights to human dignity, freedom of expression and freedom from compulsory acquisition of his property as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 had been breached. Consequently, Eniola filed the suit seeking the following reliefs in his application:

  1. A declaration that the act of beating, slapping, punching, physically assaulting him; confiscating and damaging the Nikon Coolpix A100 Digital Camera, Sony ICD-PX470 Digital Voice Recorder, Bluetooth earphone, and phones while carrying out his journalistic duty on  February 28, 2021 at Ladipo Market, Oshodi, Western Apapa Council Area of Lagos State by some officers of the Nigerian Police Force attached to the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Taskforce), led by CSP Shola Jejeloye, acting on the directive of the Governor of Lagos State, and under the Supervision of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, who are all agents of the Inspector General of Police violates his fundamental right to dignity as guaranteed by Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  • A declaration that the act of beating, slapping, punching, physically assaulting him; confiscating and damaging his Nikon Coolpix A100 Digital Camera, Sony ICD-PX470 Digital Voice Recorder, Bluetooth earphone, and phones while carrying out his journalistic duty on 28th February, 2021 at Ladipo Market, Oshodi, Western Apapa Council Area of Lagos State by some officers of the Nigerian Police Force attached to the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Taskforce), led by the CSP Shola Jejeloye acting on the directive of the Governor of Lagos State, and under the Supervision of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, who are all agents of the Inspector General of Police violates his fundamental right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  • A declaration that the act of beating, slapping, punching, physically assaulting him; confiscating and damaging his Nikon Coolpix A100 Digital Camera, Sony ICD-PX470 Digital Voice Recorder, Bluetooth earphone, and phones while carrying out his journalistic duty on February28, 2021 at Ladipo Market, Oshodi, Western Apapa Council Area of Lagos State by some officers of the Nigerian Police Force attached to the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Taskforce), led by the CSP Shola Jejeloye acting on the directive of the Governor of Lagos State, and under the Supervision of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, who are all agents of the Inspector General of Police violates the his fundamental right to freedom from compulsory acquisition of property as guaranteed by section 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  • An order of the Court directing the respondents to pay the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) as damages against them jointly and severally for the violation of his rights to human dignity, freedom of expression and freedom from compulsory acquisition of his property.
  • And such other order(s) as the Court may deem fit to grant in the circumstance.

CSP Shola Jejeloye and the Governor of Lagos State through their Counsel filed a joint counter affidavit of 18 paragraphs in opposition to the Eniola’s suit. They denied all averments by the reporter and further claimed that he failed to identify himself as a journalist and as a person of no criminal intent.

The Court on November 29, 2022 ordered that hearing notice be served on the Commission of Police, Lagos State and the Inspector General of Police who were not only absent but had no legal representation in Court. He fixed April 20, 2023 for hearing of the suit.