A Delta State High Court sitting in Otor-Udu in Udu Local Government Area has granted the prayers of three journalists who were allegedly unlawfully arrested and detained by the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Team.
The Court presided over by Hon. Justice R.D. Harriman (Mrs.) granted the prayers in Suit Numbers, OUHC/FHR/85/2020, OUHC/FHR/86/2020 and OUHC/FHR/87/2020 after it heard the Counsel to the three journalists, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi Esq.
The Court further adjourned the matter to 22/7/2020 for adoption.
Mr. Ikimi in a “Motion Ex-parte” filed on 11/6/2020 had approached the Court on behalf of the three journalists for, “An order for leave to serve the originating process and other supporting processes in the Suit outside Delta State in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on the 1st,2nd and 3rd respondents whose address for service is at Louis Edet House, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
“An order granting leave to the Applicants to service on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents all the process filed in this suit by courier.
“An order granting leave to the Applicants to service for the 2nd and 3rd suit meant 3rd respondents through the 1st respondent.
“An order deeming the service in prayers 2 and 3 as proper service, the appropriate filing fees having been paid and other such orders.”
The journalists, Mr. Matthew Omonigho, Mr. Onyekachukwu Meluwa and Mr. Christopher Odamah had approached the Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights in separate suits.
The Journalists are demanding ten million naira each as damages with an apology rendered to them.
It would be recalled that the IGP Monitoring team on May 26 tracked the mobile phone of Mr. Matthew Omonigho, Daily Post Newspaper Correspondent in Warri to the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ.
They (IGP Team) tore his trouser, cut his belt, assaulted, harassed and embarrassed him before he was whisked to the Warri Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force.
He was later told that he was arrested for having link with his colleague, Mr. Cletus Opukeme, Publisher/Editor of Daily Watch Newspaper whom they were looking for to arrest because he also had a link with another suspect they were looking for.
In the process, four other journalists including Mr. Edeki Igafe of News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, and Mr. Francis Sadhere of BusinessDay Newspaper were also arrested, with Mr. Onyekachukwu Meluwa and Mr. Christopher Odamah of Punch and Trumpet Newspapers respectively, also held.
They were later released after an administrative bail of one million naira was signed by Mr. Onyekachukwu Meluwa with the intervention of the Commissioner of Police, CP Mohammed Hafiz Inuwa.
He was allowed to sign the bail bond because Cletus Opukeme’s number was not found in his mobile phone.