Kings Communications Limited, publisher of Money Management Series (MMS) newspaper, has filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Lagos claiming N100 million as damages against the Nigeria Police and Dangote Petroleum Refinery for their alleged gross violation of fundamental rights of the company and its employees on August 10, 2021 when its office in Lagos was invaded by the Police without a lawful order or warrant issued by a competent court.
The suit was filed on behalf of the company by human rights lawyer, Mr. Alimi Adamu, a member of Media Rights Agenda’s network of lawyers on the safety of journalists, leading three other freedom of expression lawyers, Ms Chioma Nwaodike, Ms Obioma Okonkwo, and Mr. Sideeq Rabiu.
Named as respondents in the suit are the Nigeria Police, the Inspector-General of Police, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2 in Lagos; the Lagos State Commissioner of Police; the Deputy Commissioner of Police for Zone 2 Command in Lagos, DCP Umar Y. Shelleng, Police Superintendent Thomas Magaji as well as Dangote Petroleum Refinery and the Chief Corporate Communications Officer of the company, Mr. Anthony Chiejina.
The publishing company is asking the court to declare that the invasion of its premises in Festac Town, Lagos and the intimidation and harassment of its employees on August 10, 2021 by the Nigeria Police, its servants, agents, privies or representatives, without lawful order or warrant of a Court of competent jurisdiction constitutes a gross violation of its fundamental rights to freedom of expression and access to information guaranteed by Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
It is also seeking an injunction from the court to restrain them, their servants, agents, privies, representatives or anyone acting for or on their behalf from further harassing, threatening, intimidating or in any other manner infringing on or interfering with the fundamental rights of the company and its employees as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, as amended; and Articles 4, 5, and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
The company is asking the court to issue an order directing the respondents jointly and severally to pay the company One Hundred Million Naira as compensation for the severe damage caused by the invasion of its premises on August 10, 2021, without lawful order or a warrant of a Court of competent jurisdiction.
Stating the grounds of the suit, the company recounted that on August 10, 2021, Mr. Chiejina, acting in the course of his employment with Dangote Petroleum Refinery, led agents and representatives of the Nigerian Police, without lawful order or a warrant of a Court of competent jurisdiction and invaded the company’s premises in Festac Town, Lagos for the purpose of harassing and intimating the company and its employees and in the process caused serious damage to the premises and disrupted it business and operations.
It claimed that the invasion constitutes a gross violation of the company’s fundamental rights guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The company said by virtue of Section 46 of the Constitution, any person who alleges the infringement or likelihood of infringement of his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution can approach the courts for redress.
It insisted that the action of the Police and procedure adopted by them is not permitted by law and not justified by any of the provisions of the Constitution and the African Charter.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.