Category: Uncategorized

Appeal Court Refuses to Stop Onnoghen’s CCT Trial.

The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Monday refused to stop the scheduled arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Abdul Aboki, refused Onnoghen’s request to stop his arraignment at the CCT while delivering ruling in an exparte application moved by Onnoghen’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).

Onnoghen was initially scheduled for arraignment on January 14, 2019, over a six-count charge of false assets declaration filed against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), but the arraignment was adjourned to January 22, on account of improper service of the summons on the CJN.

But in a motion on notice brought before the court Monday, counsel to the applicant, Chief Awomolo, asked the Appeal Court to restrain the CCT from going ahead with the trial slated for January 22.

He also asked the court to stop the suit requesting him to step down as the CJN.

The senior lawyer submitted that it is settled law that once a matter is before the Appeal Court, trial courts ceases jurisdiction, pending the determination of the matter at the appellant court.

However, counsel to the federal government Emmanuel Omonuwa, who claimed he got to know of the matter on Monday and needed time to file a response, prayed the court for a short adjournment.

While he stated that the court process was served on the Federal Ministry of Justice at close of work on Friday, Omonua however said he came to court out of respect he has for the court.

Awomolo did not oppose the prayer for adjournment but sought order of the court to ask the respondent to maintain the status quo.

But Omonuwah countered that there were three orders stopping the trial already, adding that all the orders are subsisting and have not been set aside.

In a short ruling, Justice Aboki held that there was no need for another order and adjourned till January 24 for hearing of Onnoghen’s motion on notice.

Meanwhile, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja, has restrained President Muhammadu Buhari and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) from taking further steps in the trial of Justice Onnoghen.

The court also ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN); the CJN, Justice Onnoghen; Justice Ibrahim Tanko, a Justice of the Supreme Court; and the Chairman, CCT, Danladi Umar, to maintain the status quo ante pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The judge gave the interim orders after listening to a motion exparte brought by the Action Peoples Party.

The complainant in the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/67/2019 urged the court to, among others, order the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants whether by themselves, officers, agents, servants, privies or otherwise however from removing the third defendant (Onnoghen) as the CJN pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The party also prayed the court for an order of interim injunction restraining them from appointing or directing the fourth defendant (Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad) to take over as the acting Chairman of the National Judicial Council and as the acting CJN pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The judge warned parties to observe the rule of law “by not doing anything that would tamper with the res (subject matter) in this matter pending the determination of the motion on notice”.

Before adjourning the case to January 29 for the hearing of the motion on notice, Justice Ekwo further ordered the substituted service on the first, third and fourth defendants (Buhari, AGF and Justice Ibrahim Tanko) “by delivering the processes of the first defendant to the second defendant at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja”.

The processes are also to be delivered on the third and fourth defendants to the chief Registrar of the Supreme Court complex.

Supreme Court Judgment: Ogoni Community Celebrates, Set for N134bn from Shell

After nearly 50 years of massive crude oil pollution and about 29 years of chequered and fierce legal battle in the Courts of Law, people of Ejama community in Eleme Local of Ogoni land breathed a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court dismissed Shell appeal against the Appeal of Court judgment, writes Davidson Iriekpen.

The central issue at the Court of Appeal was a finding by that Court as affirmed by the Supreme Court that Shell Companies as Appellants did not file a brief of argument as required by law. It was also found from the records that Shell Companies never applied for leave of that Court to file an Amended Brief of argument nor were they granted such leave by Hon My Justice Tsamiya led panel of that court on 9th Feb .2013 contrary to Shell’s claim on oath in that regard.

If Shell did not file a brief of argument, how can they file an Amendment to a non-existent brief?
It is against these findings of fact by the Court of Appeal that an aggrieved Shell took out an appeal     to the Supreme  Court.
It was the convention of the Ogoni respondents that for an appeal against factual findings to be valid, leave of the Court of Appeal or failing them, the Supreme Court must be first sought, had and obtained under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This was not done and as a result the Appeal was incurably incompetent and was accordingly dismissed with N500,000.00 costs against Shell.

For the people of Ejama Community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, the judgment of the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, penultimate Friday was a great relief. For about 29 years, they were in court seeking redress for environmental degradation caused by crude oil exploration in their area by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC). To them, it was necessary to fight since the devastation of their environment had caused them a lot. Not only were their resources such as water and soil destroyed, their ecosystems, habitat and wildlife also affected through pollution.

To this end, their joy knew no bound when news filtered into the community that the Supreme Court had delivered judgment in their favour. Delivering a ruling on the appeal filed by SPDC which prevented First Bank of Nigeria Limited from paying the community a judgment debt now totalling N134 billion to the plaintiff community, the court only dismissed the case, but chastised the oil giant for wasting the time of the court.

Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs who read the ruling on behalf of other justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, said the notice of appeal filed by the oil giant was incompetent. He said motion filed on July 16, 2018 had no leg to stand on it ought not to have been filed and dismissed it in its entirety. The apex court consequently awarded N500,000 against Shell for filing an incompetent appeal in the court.

The suit commenced in 1991 before a Rivers State High Court sitting at Nchia Division, when the Ejama community represented by Isaac Osaro Ogbara, Victor Obari, John Oguru, Joseph Ogusu, G. O. Nnah, George Osaro, and Adanta Obelle, sued Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, United Kingdom, and SPDC over alleged oil spills which occurred when Shell operated in the community in 1970s. Judgment was entered for the sum of N6billion in favour of the community by the Nchia High Court. That judgment was conceded on appeal because the Supreme Court had in a sister case decided that states High Court have no jurisdiction in oil related matters.

The plaintiffs in 2001 refiled the suit at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt. After listening to the submissions of the parties in the suit, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, in his judgment in 2010, awarded N17 billion to the representatives of the Ogoni people. The court equally granted the Ogoni chiefs 25 per cent interest charge on the principal sum of about N17 billion.

SPDC then appealed against the judgment and applied for a stay of execution of the judgment pending the appeal. As a condition for granting the stay of execution, the court required Shell’s bankers, FirstBank, to provide a guarantee of the judgment sum plus interest. This condition was complied with. But Shell’s appeal failed on merit because it failed to file a brief of argument in support of their appeal but instead claimed that they were granted leave to file an amended brief of argument, which the Court of Appeal found not to be correct.

Against the agreement reached, Shell proceeded to the Supreme Court where its lawyer, Olanipekun (SAN), now leading Olawale Akanni (SAN) who was the company’s lawyer at the Court of Appeal when that appeal was dismissed, filed a fresh application asking for leave to amend the original notice of the appeal filed by Akoni at the Port Harcourt Court of Appeal registry in order for him to argue fresh points not raised at the court below and in order for him to argue 36 additional grounds of appeal.

Upon the new application at the apex court, the respondents’ lawyer, led by Lucius Nwosu (SAN), filed a preliminary objection. It must be noted that the appellants against whom judgment was entered at the court of appeal are Shell companies – Shell International BV of the Netherlands, Shell International of UK, and Shell Development Company of Nigeria Ltd.

Nwosu, assisted by Lawal Rabana (SAN) and others, argued that the findings of the Court of Appeal dismissing their appeal were based on facts, adding that the law is that an appeal must arise out of the decision complained against. He stated that if the decision complained against was based on findings of fact, the constitution requires that you cannot appeal them except you first seek leave of the Court of Appeal. The respondents’ lawyer contended that since that notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal was filed without leave, it meant that the notice was incompetent and cannot be amended because it would mean putting something on nothing and expecting it to stand.

But Justice Akaahs citing a plethora of authorities to back up his submission, held that since the notice of appeal filed by Shell sought to be amended was incompetent, no valid amendment could be effected because issues of fact or mix law and fact were raised in the original notice of appeal with leave of court.
The Supreme Court justice agreed with the submission of the lead counsel to Shell, Olanipekun, that an appellant who has a valid and subsisting appeal can seek the leave of court to do so, adding that in the instant case, there is no such valid notice of appeal that could be amended.
“Where the grounds of appeal are based on mixed law and facts and the leave of either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court is not sought and granted, the appeal is incompetent and neither the Court of Appeal nor the Supreme Court will have any jurisdiction to entertain the appeal.

“As the notice of appeal sought to be amended was incompetent, no valid amendment could be effected even though issues of jurisdiction were raised in the proposed notice of appeal.
“Learned senior counsel for the appellants stated that correct legal position that the appellant who has a valid and subsisting appeal can seek the leave of court to do so but in the instant case, there is no such valid notice of appeal that can be amended, Justice Akaahs held.

However, while the case was still pending at the apex court, sensing that Shell was using delay tactics to prevent FirstBank from paying the judgment creditors the N17billion judgment debt, in December 2017, they commenced garnishee proceedings at the Federal High Court in Owerri presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa. They urged the CBN to pay them N122.53 billion out of FirstBank’s account in its custody.

THISDAY gathered that they calculated the principal sum of N17 billion and the accrued 25 per cent interest charge per annum to arrive at the sum of N122,533,403,392. In January 2018, Justice Allagoa granted them a temporary order (garnishee nisi) ordering the CBN to pay them the sum from FirstBank’s account with it.

But the CBN asked the court not to make absolute the temporary garnishee order it granted Ogoni chiefs representing the Ogoni community, compelling it to pay the sum of N122.53 billion on behalf of FirstBank. The apex bank’s lead counsel, Professor Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) while responding to the garnishee proceeding, stated that making the order absolute and compelling the CBN to pay out the huge sum would be against the interest of justice because the matter was still pending at the Supreme Court.

He also argued that compelling the CBN to pay the N122.53 billion from FirstBank’s funds domiciled with it could have far-reaching consequences for Nigeria’s oldest and biggest lender by assets and deposits, and a systemic impact on the rest of the financial system and wider economy.

With the dismissal of the Shell’s appeal last Friday, it is not clear if the application filed by the Ogoni chiefs seeking garnishee absolute against FirstBank and reserved for ruling by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos would not be granted.
With the dismissal of the Shell’s appeal penultimate Friday, it is not clear why the application filed by the Ogoni chiefs seeking garnishee absolute against FirstBank and reserved for ruling by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos would not be granted.

Reacting to the Supreme Court judgment yesterday, Nwosu said: “With this decision, therefore, all arguments of FirstBank that Shell was on a further appeal at the Supreme Court for which they were reneging from honouring their obligation that was due by virtue of their guarantee has completely collapsed and as of today, the guarantee is standing at N134 billion, contingent liability of First Bank’s assets. And that there is a garnishee order nisi attaching First Bank’s money at the CBN which since had been served on the Central Bank.

“With this judgment now, the central bank is under an obligation to set aside that amount of money with interest still running from First Bank’s account to satisfy that judgment debt based on what the law says under garnishee orders.”

HR Violation, Corruptions are Barriers for Youths Achievement- Mukundane

Natalie Sonia Mukundane, acting executive chairperson of the African Youths Commission has described African Human Rights Day as significant for development of the youths. “Human Rights Violation and Corruption are key barriers for youths to achieve the sustainable development goal,” she told The Voice in an exclusive interview at Paradise Suits Hotel.

She added: “Corruption is the biggest hindrance of youths not being at the centre table. The elders are not inviting the youths because they are afraid of us [the youth], I don’t know why that is happening because all what we [the youths] want is to have a say in decision making process”

She added: “We want to work with the elders so that by 2063 youth can be able to play key roles in decision making process to expectation. Imagine, if we can fight corruption at this moment then we will have leaders who fight corruption in the near future.”

She added that the African youths need to know that the continent should be ‘no go area’ for corruption in the future so that the continent will not have corrupt leaders citing Robert Mugabe and Yahya Jammeh.

Madam Sonia, a professional lawyer said because of corruption African youths are dying in heath facilities as a result of shortage of medication, and other social needs.

She called on African youths to unite and work hard to ensure that the continent is free from corruption saying this can be attained through appropriate advocacy by the entire African youths.

“Currently no African country is isolated; therefore no nation should fear of fighting corruption or human rights violation because the entire continent is connected to ensure the welfare of all Africans. If any leader wants to maltreat his or her people, other countries will react immediately to make sure no one rights is violated.

“However, I am urging African leaders to empower the youth and termed them as friends and partners in development. They [the leaders] should also teach the youths properly so that we [the youths] become good leaders’ tomorrow,” she stated.

She urged the young people to speed-up to contributing in the development of the continent, adding: “Is high time for the youth to stop blaming authorities and look for measures that could advance them because when we [the youths] come together, we can put mechanism in place to ensure the well being of Africa.”

Author: Sulayman Waan

Presidential Panel visits SARS detention centre, calls for intelligent policing

The Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Tony Ojukwu, on Saturday called for intelligent policing in reforming Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operations.

Ojukwu, also the Chairman, Presidential Investigation Panel on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, made the call during a visit by the panel to SARS detention facility in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the panel was set up by the Federal Government to look into the petitions by members of the public on the operations of SARS and to recommend a way forward.

He said that the visit was for the panel members to see things by themselves.

“We have always preached prison decongestion, we need to do some background checks; there must be intelligent policing in other to move forward.

”There must be some diligent investigation to separate the guilty and the innocent, failure to do that would encourage injustice” he said.

He said that there was an improvement in the provision of toilets and bathrooms facilities compared to the last time the panel visited.

Ojukwu decried the practice of keeping police with other inmates because it affects the way they treat other people they come across in the line of duty.

The chairman stressed the need for officers to minimize or do away with the way they torture inmates or suspects.

“We don’t benefit much from torture, it only breeds frustration, and the truth cannot be extracted from the person tortured.

“Everyone in detention here had gone through one form of torture or the other, this is not right; some of the inmates have marks to attest to that fact,” he said.

He said that most of the inmates were not healthy due to inadequate feeding, yet some inmates’ family members bring food according to some of the inmates.

Ojukwu added that the sleeping arrangement was inhuman and had inflicted some injuries on the inmates.

He said that the cells are overcrowded, ranging from 65 to 95 inmates in a cell; some had been there for as long as one year two months without being arraigned in court.

The chairman called on the police to charge them to court to prove their innocence or guilt.

“Some of the cases that brought many of the suspects here are mostly phone theft, bag snatching, which should not be handled by SARS,” he said.

The executive secretary condemned the detention of many minors between the ages of 17 and 15.

Responding, Mr James Idachaba, police in charge of legal, said that when they take charges to the court it takes as long as six months before being assigned most times.

And for minors, the police said most of them are linked with other criminal offences like murder or kidnapping or armed robbery.

Also addressing the inmates, Ojukwu told them that the government has not forsaken them hence the visit.

“You make the society unsafe with your criminal activities like snatching bags, phones or their personal belongings.

“We are here to review what brought you here and see if you can change to better human beings in the society, if you are released,” he advised.

Author: News Agency Of Nigeria Source: Pulse Nigeria

 

 

European Court of Human Rights finds Azerbaijan violated the rights of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova

On 10 January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case of award-winning Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Ms Ismayilova, an independent investigative journalist internationally known for her pro-democracy stance, was the target of a systematic smear campaign comprising threats, intimidations and gross violations of her privacy designed to prevent her from pursuing her journalistic work. Today the ECtHR found violations of Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights by Azerbaijan in respect of these intrusions into her private life.

Ms Ismayilova began receiving threats after publishing a series of articles on government corruption involving the president of Azerbaijan and his family. In early 2012, she complained to the Azerbaijani authorities and, shortly afterwards, videos showing intimate scenes from her bedroom were published on the internet, seemingly recorded on hidden cameras illegally installed in her apartment. Azerbaijani state media widely referenced the videos and criticized Ms Ismayilova for ‘immoral behaviour’. Despite Ms Ismayilova’s continued requests, the Azerbaijani authorities showed no intention to effectively investigate either the threats or the gross violation of her privacy. Further, the authorities published a report publicly disclosing yet more private information about Ms Ismayilova, her friends and family. Having received no effective redress from the Azerbaijani national courts, in September 2013 Ms Ismayilova petitioned the ECtHR.

The ECtHR today held that the Azerbaijani authorities violated her Article 10 right to freedom of expression by failing to protect her in the exercise of that freedom: both by failing to effectively investigate her complaints and by actively publishing additional information relating to her private life, contrary to the “spirit of an environment protective of journalism”.

The ECtHR also held that there had been a violation of Ms Ismayilova’s Article 8 right to private life due to the Azerbaijani authorities’ failure to conduct an effective investigation into the “serious, flagrant and extraordinarily intense” invasion of her privacy, especially given there was a plausible link between these intrusions and her journalistic activity. In reaching its finding, the ECtHR noted the many leads that the authorities had failed to investigate and the significant delay to the proceedings in Azerbaijan. The ECtHR also held that the publication by the Azerbaijani authorities of information about Ms Ismayilova’s private life constituted a further breach of Article 8, stating that the authorities should have taken particular care in the circumstances not to compound the already existing grave breaches of her privacy.

This is an important judgment in support of press freedom in Azerbaijan, where there has been an increasing crackdown on independent journalism in recent years. In its judgment the ECtHR acknowledged the record of persecution of journalists in Azerbaijan and noted that this persecution, coupled with a climate of impunity, may produce a “grave chilling effect” on freedom of expression. The ECtHR once again stressed the fundamental role of freedom of expression in a democratic society and stated that the genuine, effective exercise of this freedom is not dependent merely on a state’s duty not to interfere with individuals’ right to freedom of expression, but also calls for states to effectively protect journalists and create a favourable environment for participation in public debate, enabling people to express their opinions and ideas without fear.  

In response to the judgment today, Ms Ismayilova said:

I want to thank all my lawyers in Azerbaijan, at the Media Legal Defence Initiative, and at law firms De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and WilmerHale, who worked on the case and all the organizations that intervened as third parties. Their support and great work was indispensable.

This decision proves that the Azerbaijani government is responsible for the heinous crime I was subject to.

It was a long legal fight, and I will continue demanding that the Azerbaijani government properly investigates the intrusion to my privacy and blackmail. I strongly believe that the Azerbaijani government officials were behind the secret filming and blackmailing, and my legal struggle will continue till the day when all perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Ms Ismayilova was represented by Azerbaijani lawyer Yalchin Imanov, MLDI, and international law firms Wilmer Hale and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. An amicus brief was also filed by a coalition of 14 free speech organisations.

COURT REJECTS MOTION FOR PROVISIONAL MEASURE ON A CASE BROUGHT BY THREE JUSTICES OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT

 

The ECOWAS Court has denied an application for interim measures filed by three justices of the High Court of Ghana in which they asked for an order suspending an ongoing disciplinary procedure against them by the government of Ghana until the determination of their case against the government with the Court.

 

In refusing to grant the order, a panel of three judges presided over by Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara said the Court could not establish the grounds for urgency or the irreparable loss that could be suffered by the Applicants if the motion was denied.

The Court therefore adjourned the suit to 23rd of January, 2019 for substantive hearing.

In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/42/16 filed by Justices Paul Uuter Dery, Mustapha Habib Logoh and Gilbert Ayisi Addo, they said the motion has become urgent because the government has taken three administrative steps, including requesting them to appear before a disciplinary committee, despite the 25th May 2018 order of the ECOWAS Court urging the government to suspend further action on the matter until the ruling on the motion.

In the suit filed by their Counsel, Mr Nii Kpakpo Samoa Addo, the Applicants alleged the violation of their fundamental human rights by the government of Ghana following the suspension of some of their allowances and the payment of half of their salary because of an ongoing disciplinary procedure against them initiated by the country’s judicial council.

The action of the Judicial Council of Ghana is on account of a petition to the President of the Republic of Ghana based on an investigative report by a journalist, Tiger Eye PI on the 10th September seeking their removal from office on grounds of audio-visual evidence and transcripts, various discussions and other acts that allegedly took place between the petitioner, the judges concerned and court staff which the petitioner produced in support of the petition as evidence.

The Applicants maintained that they challenged the petition by instituting various actions in the courts, but that the Supreme Court of Ghana while agreeing with the Applicants that the petitioner is not a company registered in accordance with the laws of Ghana as it claimed, went ahead to endorse the decisions of the judicial Council.

They therefore averred that the state of Ghana has violated their rights to fair hearing and administrative justice, equality before the law and freedom from discrimination, privacy and work including the action of the Council in paying  them half of their monthly salaries, the suspension of their allowances  and the constitution of a panel to investigate them.

They therefore, affirmed that these actions constituted an attempt by the State of Ghana to unlawfully and unfairly deprive them of their employment and right to work. They therefore urged the Court to issue the following orders: An order prohibiting the State of Ghana from continuing with the impeachment and investigation of the Applicants; an order asking Ghana to pay with interests the salaries and allowances of the Applicants unlawfully suspended since January 2016 as well as the payment of compensatory damages and costs of legal fees on full indemnity basis.

 

 

Preliminary Opinion from Court of Justice of the European Union in Google v CNIL case about the right to be forgotten affirms the need to protect freedom of expression

On 10 January 2019, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a landmark preliminary opinion (available below) in the Google v. CNIL case in respect of the scope of individuals’ right to request the removal, or “de-referencing”, of online information about them. Advocate General Maciej Szpunar opines that enforcement of a successful claim to that right should apply only to the EU and not worldwide.

The right to be forgotten originated in the landmark 2014 judgment in Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja Gonzalez, in which the CJEU held that individuals may request search engines to remove links to inadequate, irrelevant or excessive content relating to them online. The present case was shortly thereafter referred to the CJEU for clarification by the French Conseil D’État, with the French data regulator (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes, or “CNIL”) arguing that where a claim in respect of the right to be forgotten has been successful, search engines should be required to de-reference all relevant links from not only the domestic domain but from all of its domains worldwide.

MLDI was part of a coalition of international freedom of expression organisations who intervened at the CJEU, highlighting the potentially far-reaching negative consequences for freedom of expression should CNIL’s argument be accepted. The intervention noted that the right to be forgotten must be balanced against the right to freedom of expression, that global de-referencing would be a disproportionate interference with freedom of expression and that it would risk a “race to the bottom” in terms of prohibition of speech if de-referencing exercises could have worldwide extra-territorial effect. 

The Advocate General today similarly stated that the right to be forgotten must be balanced against other fundamental rights, as well as the legitimate public interest in accessing the information sought. He further stated that the considerations involved in such a balancing exercise will vary from one jurisdiction to another, such that global de-referencing orders would risk preventing persons in third states from accessing information and, in turn, risk third states preventing individuals within the EU from accessing information. The Advocate General therefore proposes that the CJEU should hold that, where a claim for de-referencing has been successful, the search engine operator should only be required to effect de-referencing within the EU.

The Advocate General’s opinion is an important step in support of the protection of freedom of expression in the context of competing fundamental rights. Whilst not binding, the opinion may be indicative of the forthcoming CJEU judgment in the case. The judgment of the CJEU is expected in April 2019.   

MLDI intervened alongside the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, American Society of News Editors, The Associated Press, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Chicago Tribune Company LLC, Dow Jones & Company, Inc., The E.W. Scripps Company, First Look Media Works, Inc., Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression, Gannett Co., Inc., Hearst Corporation, International Documentary Assn., Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, Media Law Resource Center, Media Legal Defence Initiative, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, National Press Photographers Association, National Public Radio, Inc., The New York Times Company, News Media Alliance, Online News Association, Thomson Reuters Markets LLC, The Seattle Times Company, Tully Center for Free Speech and The Washington Post.

ECOWAS COURT TO DELIVER RULING ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION FILED BY MEDIA EXECUTIVE ALLEGING THE DESTRUCTION OF MEDIA HOUSE BY NIGERIAN OFFICIALS

The ECOWAS Court of Justice to deliver ruling on whether it has jurisdiction to hear a case brought by a Nigerian business and media executive alleging the gross violation of his fundamental human rights by the Federal Republic of Nigeria following the destruction of his television station and newspaper outfit by agents of the government on 13th May 1994.

A three member panel of the judges of the Court led by the President. Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante, will deliver the ruling and also rule on whether the matter is status barred in line with the argument of the Defendants.

In the suit, Mr. King Rich, who owns CONGRESS INDEPENDENT TELEVISION and CONGRESS NEWSPAPER said the invasion and destruction of the two media outfits located on Allen Avenue in Lagos during the regime of former military leader, the late General Sani Abacha, constituted a gross violation of his fundamental human rights; right to fair hearing; right to property; right to personal liberty, freedom of movement and dignity of the human person.

Mr. Rich, who is represented by his counsel, Mr. Chijioke Kanu  said the action violated the provisions of the  African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

The plaintiff averred that the invasion took place in the course of his normal and lawful business, and claimed that the agents ‘completely and irretrievably destroyed both the television station and the newspaper outfits and carted away money and equipment worth about the sum of N20 Billion Naira.’  He also alleged that he was arrested during the invasion, detained and subjected to various kinds of torture by the agents resulting in his being permanently sick.

He said that the Oputa Panel set up by the government in 2000 to hear and determine cases of human violations awarded him compensation in sum of N10.2Billion Naira after confirming the claim against the Defendant which has so far failed to pay the compensation, even after a Federal High Court in Abuja had recommended that the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance take appropriate steps to effect the compensation.

Among the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff from the Court is an order on the Defendant to pay the N10.2 Billion compensation with a 10% interest annually from 2002. The said ruling is to be delivered today being 22nd January, 2019.