Court fixes Sept. 29 for Lagos journalist’s assault suit against Customs

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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed Sept. 29 to hear application to re-list a suit by a journalist, Otunba Olomofe, against the Nigerian Customs Service over alleged assault and rights infringement.

The Lagos Branch of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had filed the suit on behalf of the Badagry-based journalist, seeking enforcement of his fundamental rights to life, freedom of expression and the press.

Joined in the suit as respondents are the Comptroller-General of Customs, Muhammed Ndalati, Emmanuel Nkemdirim, and Ibrahim Turaki.

The suit was filed following alleged severe assault and beating the journalist allegedly received in the hands of customs officers and some hoodlums allegedly hired by them.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the suit which was filed early January, had been fixed for mention on Feb. 22 and March 17, but was eventually slated for hearing on June 16.

On June 16, after the case was called, counsel to respondents had informed the court that the applicant was absent, and called for the dismissal of the suit.

Consequently, Justice Abdulazeez Anka struck out the suit.

Counsel to the applicant, Mr Giti Ogunye, had re-filed the suit on June 17 and served the court processes including his application to re-list the suit on the respondents.

The court then fixed July 4 for mention of the case.

Applicant’s counsel (Ogunye) informed the court on Monday that he had duly served the court’s processes on all respondents, adding that he was ready to proceed with his application.

Counsel to the first, second, third, fourth and fifth respondents, Mr G.U. Badejogbin and counsel to the sixth, seven and eight respondents, Mr I.C. Ifediora, confirmed service of the court processes.

While Badejogbin said he was prepared to go on with the hearing in spite of being served with the processes late, Ifediora insisted that the suit was not ripe for hearing.

According to Ifediora, the applicant’s suit was filed on June 17, a day after it was struck out, and the applicant had to wait till June 29 before effecting service of the processes on him.

He, therefore, submitted that the case was not yet ripe for hearing adding that he would ask for cost.

In a short ruling, Justice Anka adjourned the case to Sept. 29 for hearing of the applicant’s motion to re-list the suit.

He, however, refused to make any order as to cost.

NAN also reports that the applicant is claiming N500 million as damages against the customs service for assault at Seme Border Post near Badagry on June 25, 2015.

Olomofe is also asking the court to declare that the respondents by beating and causing him internal injuries, infringed on his right to life as guaranteed by Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

He also asked the court to declare that the assault done to him in the course of discharging his professional duties and obligations constituted an infringement on his rights to freedom of expression and the press.

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