Court reserves judgment in N100m damages suit filed by publisher

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Justice Peter Affen of an FCT  High Court on Wednesday reserved judgment in a N100million damages suit filed by the publisher of Power Steering Newspaper, a monthly magazine, Tom Uhia for enforcement of his fundamental rights.

Uhia had through his counsel, Etuku Onah, dragged the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba; Michael Anthony Ogbizi of the Force Criminal and Intelligent Investigation Department (FCIID), Abuja,  ACP Tahir Usman; ACP Gabriel Elaigwu; Rogas Ilebel and the Nigerian Police to court.

The claimant in an originating summon, dated October 20, 2020, prayed for the enforcement of his fundamental rights.

Uhia sought a declaration of the court that his detention at the FCID by the second to the fifth respondents from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15,.

Also,  his continued detention from October 16, 2020 after the fulfillment of bail conditions till date without being arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction was illegal.

He added that it was unlawful, unconstitutional and a violation of his right to personal liberty as guaranteed under Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution.

He further sought a declaration that his arrest by the second to the fifth respondents at the instance of Jedy-Agba on Oct. 13, two days before he was invited to the FCID, Abuja, and on Oct. 15,  without a warrant of arrest was unlawful.

He further sought, among others, a declaration that searching his house at Gwarimpa, Abuja, on Oct. 14, by the second to the fifth respondents at the instance of the first respondent was in derogation of his right to privacy guaranteed by Section 37 of the Constitution.

Earlier,  counsel for the claimant, Onah informed the court that Uhia was arraigned by the police before Justice A.B. Mohammed  of  an FCT High Court  and granted bail.

He, however, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought by the claimant with a view to enforcing his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In opposition , counsel for the Minister of State, Obi Nwankwor, urged the court to dismiss the case against the first respondent.

He stated that the claimant’s reply to the first respondent’s response was replete with features that rendered it unreliable.

He said that the despondent, a litigation secretary, deposed to facts that were beyond his personal knowledge without stating the source of his information.

Nwankwor, alleged that the respondent did not state that he was a part of the delegation of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) delegation or that he was informed by a person whosoever present at the meeting.

“All the paragraphs are conclusions, arguments and opinions contrary to Section 115 of the Evidence Act,” the minister counsel told the court.

Counsel for the second to sixth respondents, D.U. Oguele, on his part, also urged the court to dismissed the case.

After  listening to arguments by parties in the case, Justice Affen reserved judgment till a date to be communicated later to parties.