Assaulted Journalist: Court fixes Sept 22 for hearing
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed 22 September to hear a suit filed by a journalist, Ebere Wabara, seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights against the Police.
The applicant, an Associate Editor of The Sun Newspaper, had filed the suit through his lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, against the police, for violating his rights.
Joined as respondents in the suit are: the Inspector-General of Police; Abia State Chief Magistrate, John Ukpai, and the Attorney General of Abia State and Commissioner for Justice.
NAN reports that the suit, which was earlier slated for hearing, was on Monday, adjourned at the instance of the court, due to its work load.
NAN recalls that at the last adjourned date on 28 May, the Attorney General of Abia State, Kalu Umeh, SAN, had filed a a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.
The applicant, in the same vain, filed a reply to the motion, while the case was set down for hearing.
The applicant was seeking an order restraining the respondents from arresting or detaining him, following a bench warrant issued by the second respondent, on the basis of a charge of sedition levied against him.
In his affidavit, the applicant averred that he had practised as a journalist for over 30 years, and served as Special Assistant to the Publisher of The Sun Newspaper, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
He said that on 28 March, some policemen from the Abia State Police Command, stormed his residence at Aguda in Surulere, Lagos, and dragged him to Sholoki police station in Surulere.
He said that he was arrested while still in his underpants, handcuffed, and eventually taken away to Umuahia.
The applicant said that he was subjected to extreme dehumanizing conditions at the police station in Umuahia.
He said that he was eventually released on bail on March 29, with one Chuks Onuoha, standing surety.
Wabara said that he was asked to return to the station on 31 March.
He averred that when he arrived Lagos, he took ill due to the harsh conditions and was admitted at Duntro Hospital in Surulere.
He said that on 31 March, he was informed by a source, that the respondents had preferred a criminal charge against him, alleging that he had committed sedition, and had defamed the character of the Governor of Abia State.
The applicant said that on the face of the charge levied against him, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest and detention.
He averred that as a journalist, he was entitled to the freedom of expression, and was also at liberty to hold opinion and impart information, without interference.
The applicant wants the court to vacate the bench warrant issued by the second respondent, on the ground that sedition no longer constituted a punishable offence under Section 39 of the Constitution, as amended.
He also avers that on the authority of Arthur Nwankwo V State reported in 1985, NCLR 288, sedition was no longer a punishable offence recognised by the Constitution.