A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has awarded N5 million against the Nigeria Police Force for the arrest and detention of two journalists, Messrs. Daniel Elombah and Izuchukwu Elombah.
Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, had arrested the brothers in Nnewi, Anambra State on January 1, 2018, on allegations that they published an article critical of Mr. Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, who immediately deployed officers to track them down. The police said the brothers published the article on their website.
In the judgment, delivered by Justice Jude Okeke, the court granted an injunction restraining respondents from further arresting and restraining the movement of the applicants.
It further ordered the release of property in the custody of the respondents, even as it rejected the prayer by the applicants for public apology on the grounds that it would amount to double punishment for the respondents having granted monetary compensation.
Counsel to the respondents, Ifeanyi Nrialike had prayed for an order for an extention of time to file their counter-affidavit . The grounds for the application were that: due to administrative challenges, the substantive counsel could not access the file on time.
Counsel for the applicant, in opposition, filed a 9 paragraphs counter-affidavit and a written address. In his remarks, Mr. Ephraim Shiho, who argued the application, prayed the court to dismiss and strike out the respondents’ application for lacking in merit and being grossly incompetent.
Agreeing, the court held that the application was grossly incompetent as stated by Ephraim Shiho.
On the other grounds, counsel for the Applicant argued that the application of the respondent’s amounts to arresting the judgment of the Court, as the respondents waited until date was fixed for the delivery of the judgment before they brought the application in bad faith to arrest the delivery of the judgment of the court.
Also, the court held that the application amounted to arresting the judgment of the court.
On the grounds of whether the respondents will be denied fair hearing if their application is refused, the court held the changes in the defendants position that a “party cannot sleep on his right at the same time stay away from trial having been served with the substantive suit and hearing notice.”
The Court consequently dismissed the application to arrest the judgment and proceeded to deliver the judgment.
24 April, 2018