A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed September 22 to hear a suit filed by a journalist, Ebere Wabara, seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights against the Police.
The applicant, an Associate Editor of the Sun newspaper, had filed the suit through his lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, against the police for violating his rights.
Joined as respondents in the suit are: the Inspector-General of Police; Abia State Chief Magistrate, John Ukpai; and the Attorney General of Abia State and Commissioner for Justice.
The suit, which was earlier slated for hearing, was on Monday adjourned at the instance of the court due to its work load.
Justice Okon Abang, therefore, fixed September 22 for hearing.
At the last adjourned date on May 28, the Attorney General of Abia State, Kalu Umeh (SAN), had filed a a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.
The applicant, in the same vain, filed a reply to the motion, while the case was set down for hearing.
The applicant was seeking an order restraining the respondents from arresting or detaining him, following a bench warrant issued by the second respondent, on the basis of a charge of sedition levied against him.
In his affidavit, the applicant averred that he had practised as a journalist for over 30 years and served as Special Assistant to the Publisher of the Sun newspaper, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
Wabara said that on March 28, some policemen from the Abia State Police Command, stormed his residence at Aguda in Surulere, Lagos and dragged him to Sholoki Police Station in Surulere.
He said that he was arrested while still in his underpants, handcuffed and eventually taken away to Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
The applicant said that he was subjected to extreme dehumanizing conditions at the police station in Umuahia.
Wabara said that he was eventually released on bail on March 29, with one Chuks Onuoha standing surety.
Wabara said that he was asked to return to the station on March 31.
He averred that when he arrived Lagos, he took ill due to the harsh conditions he was subjected to at Umuahia and was admitted at Duntro Hospital in Surulere.
He said that on March 31, he was informed by a source that the respondents had preferred a criminal charge against him, alleging that he had committed sedition and had defamed the character of the Governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji.
The applicant said that on the face of the charge levied against him, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest and detention.
Wabara averred that as a journalist, he was entitled to the freedom of expression and was also at liberty to hold opinion and impart information, without interference.
The applicant wants the court to vacate the bench warrant issued by the second respondent on the ground that sedition no longer constituted a punishable offence under Section 39 of the Constitution, as amended.
He also avers that on the authority of Arthur Nwankwo V State reported in 1985, NCLR 288, sedition was no longer a punishable offence recognised by the Constitution.