By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has filed a N500 million criminal suit against the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, over the brutal assault on one Yomi Olomofe, a journalist at Seme border post of the NCS last year.
It will be recalled that the Badagry based journalist was severely beaten on June 22, 2015 by hoodlums believed to be working for the NCS at Seme border and left him in a pool of blood at a refuse dump.
In a fundamental rights suit filed by Mr. Jiti Ogunye on behalf of the NUJ and the brutalised journalist, the applicant is asking for N500 million as special and exemplary damages for the violation of the applicant’s rights.
Joined as Respondents in the suit are the Comptroller of Customs, Mohammed Ndalati; Deputy Comptroller, Emmanuel Nkemdirim; Assistant Comptroller, Ibrahim Turaki and the Comptroller General, Ahmed Ali.
Others are the Nigerian Customs Service, Chief Sam of Ibiye, Alhaji Momoh (aka Basket), Mr. Shehu and Mr. Elijah.
In the suit, the applicant asked the Court for a declaration that the beating meted out to him by the Respondents, which inflicted bodily and internal injuries on him on June 25, 2015 in the premises of the NCS, Seme, was “capable of infringing on his right to life as guaranteed by Section 33 (1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.”
Beside, he prayed the court to declare that the beating on the said date in the course of discharging his professional duties and obligations constituted an infringements on his rights to freedom of expression and the press as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
Speaking, the National President of NUJ, Waheed Odusile vowed that the union will not allow the matter to be swept under the carpet, saying they will see it to its logical conclusion. According to the lawyer, the brutal assault on the journalist was in clear violation of his fundamental human rights, adding that medical reports indicated that the journalist who is still recuperating suffered severe injury and psychological trauma after the incident.
The human rights lawyer said it was unfortunate that journalists that played a prominent role in the return of democracy to the country have continued to be battered by security agents and the powers that be.