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Court fixes date to hear journalist’s N50m suit against Lagos Task Force over alleged torture

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Sanwo-Olu

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed January 19, 2022, for hearing in a N50 million suit filed by a reporter, Mr Eniola Daniel, against the Chairman of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Shola Jejeloye.

Daniel, a a journalist with The Guardian Newspaper filed the suit after he alleged that thugs engaged by the task force and policemen under Mr Jejeloye’s supervision tortured and brutalized him on February 28, 2021, while he was covering the destruction of shanties in the Oshodi area of Lagos by members of the task force.

In the Originating Summons filed on behalf of Mr Daniel by human rights lawyers, Ms Chioma Nwaodike and Ms Obioma Okonkwo, the journalist named as respondents CSP Jejeloye, the Inspector-General of Police, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, and the Governor of Lagos State.

The lawyers filed the suit under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2019, the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Daniel is asking the court to declare that the act of beating, slapping, punching, physically assaulting him, confiscating and damaging his Nikon Digital Camera, Sony Digital Voice Recorder, Bluetooth earphone, and his mobile phones while he was carrying out his journalistic duty on February 28, 2021 at Ladipo Market in Oshodi, Lagos, by members of the task force, violates his fundamental rights to dignity, freedom of expression and his right to freedom from compulsory acquisition of property.

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The journalist is also asking the Court to direct the respondents jointly and severally to pay him N50 million as damages for the violation of his rights to human dignity, freedom of expression and freedom from compulsory acquisition of his property.

In a 31-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, Daniel recounted that on February 28, 2021, he went to Ladipo Market in Oshodi, where members of the task force, led by CSP Jejeloye and assisted by some thugs engaged by the task force, were destroying and burning some shanties and make-shift buildings erected around the market.

He recalled that he was recording the activities of the task force with his video camera, interviewing eye-witnesses and taking pictures of the damage caused by the taskforce when a thug helping members of the taskforce to demolish buildings charged towards him upon an order given by men of the taskforce and physically assaulted him by raining slaps and blows on him and hitting him with planks.

He said the task force members, who are police officers, then joined the thug in assaulting him, adding that while CSP Jejeloye watched, they hit him with their fists, rifle butts, boots and planks even after he introduced himself as a journalist with The Guardian Newspaper, and explained that he was only carrying out his professional duties.

According to him, the men of the task force confiscated all his devices, namely his Nikon Digital Camera, his Sony Digital Voice Recorder, Bluetooth earphone, and his mobile phones and damaged them in the process.

He noted that to stop the thugs and policemen from continuing to hit him, he showed the policemen his official identification card but to his surprise, the police officers, totalling nine men, continued torturing him till he lost consciousness.

Meanwhile, the suit will be presided over by Justice Yellin Bogoro.

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