Taraba-Based Journalist Files N20 Million Suit Against Police, Senator for Harassment, Intimidation and Unlawful Detention

Mr. Noah Ajare, member of Media Rights Agenda’s Network of Lawyers

Taraba State-based journalist, newspaper publisher and radio station manager, Mr. Samuel Ayodele, has filed a suit at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja claiming N20 million as general damages against the Nigeria Police Force and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha over his alleged harassment, intimidation, unlawful detention and breach of his fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

In the suit, Mr. Ayodele, publisher of “Taraba Truth and Facts” newspaper and Chief Executive Officer of Rock FM radio station in Jalingo, Taraba State, is alleging that Senator Bwacha is using the Police to harass and intimidate him and orchestrated his detention.

Named as respondents in the suit are Senator Bwacha, the Inspector-General of Police and the Nigeria Police Force.

Mr. Ayodele claimed that the Senator has issued various threats to him, including of his intention to keep the journalist out of circulation, and to close Rock FM radio station as well as the Truth and Facts newspaper.

He said he was subsequently invited by the Police and upon honouring the invitation, he was detained for an alleged offence of criminal defamation.

In a Motion on Notice filed on his behalf by Abuja-based lawyer and member of Media Rights Agenda’s Network of Lawyers, Mr. Noah Ajare, pursuant to the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 and Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mr. Ayodele is seeking, among other things, to enforce his fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement under Sections 35 and 46 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Specifically, he is seeking:

  • A declaration that his incessant harassment, arrest and detention by the Senator Bwacha and the Police without his committing any crime except for having a lawful business as a journalist is unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal as it offends Sections 34(1)(a) and not part of the exceptions stated in Section 35(1)(a) and (f) of the Constitution and also infringes Articles 6 and 7(2) of the African Charter;
  • A declaration that the continued invitation for him to report to the Nigeria Police Force office in Abuja on the allegation by Senator Bwacha relating to his legitimate profession amounts to intimidation and a grave violation of Section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution and Articles 6 and 7(2) of the African Charter, ,
  • A declaration that his arrest and detention is unlawful and a violation of his fundamental human right and an order directing his release from unlawful detention by the respondents;
  • An order compelling the respondents to tender an unreserved public apology to him within seven days for the infringement of his constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights;
  • An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Police, either by themselves, their agents, servants, functionaries, or representatives however described from further inviting, arresting, threatening to arrest, detaining or threatening to detain or interfering with his right to personal liberty in connection with any petition or allegation emanating from Senator Bwacha; and
  • An order mandating the respondents, jointly and severally, to pay him N20 million as general damages for harassment, intimidation, arrest and unlawful detention and for the breach of his fundamental rights.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.