THE Center for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged, CENTREP, has asked the high command of the Nigeria Police Force headed by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to apologize to the five journalists arrested in Warri last Monday or be ready to face a fundamental rights suit against it.
CENTREP also warned that such apology should be made public in all the national dallies to the said journalists forthwith in line with Section 35 Sub Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The journalists, Mr. Mathew Omonigho (Daily Post), Mr. Edeki Igafe (NAN Correspondent), Mr. Francis Sadhere (Business Day Correspondent), Mr. Onyekachukwu Meluwa (Punch Newspaper Correspondent) and Mr. Christopher Odamah (a freelancer) were all arrested by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS IGP and taken to the Warri Police Area Command in lieu of their colleague, Mr. Cletus Opukeme who they accused of being used to sponsor media attacks against the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Mr. Opukeme on his part had also accused a serving Minister from the South-South of threatening his life amidst plot to abduct him over his recent reports on the activities of the interventionist agency.
Executive Director of the group, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi in a statement yesterday, said: “They were all arrested and detained by the said operatives of the SARS, IGP Squad without any formal charge and it, however, took the intervention of the State NUJ Chairman, Mr. Michael Ikeogwu and others to effect the release of the five journalists after several hours in police custody.
“In line with CENTREP’s objectives of deepening our democracy and human rights culture in our polity, we have decided to take over the case of the above five journalists pro-bono by filing separate fundamental rights suits on their behalf against the Police at the High Court, Warri in a bid to defending and/or enforcing their fundamental rights.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we call on the Police High Command to offer a public apology in all the national dallies to the said journalists forthwith in line with Section 35 Sub Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) or else we shall not hesitate to file separate fundamental rights suit in the High Court, Warri on behalf of all the said journalists against the police and claim damages at large cum an order to render public apology in all the national dailies, to the said journalist.
“We believe that such a suit would teach the Police on how to be more professional and to respect the human rights of the citizenry while discharging their statutory duties.”
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