Assaulted Journalist Vs Customs: Court To Rule On Application March 14

A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed March 14 to rule on a motion seeking to introduce oral evidence in a suit by a journalist, Mr Otunba Olomofe, against the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) over rights infringement and severe physical assault.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 as respondents in the suit are the Comptroller-General of Customs, Muhammed Ndalati as well as Emmanuel Nkemdirim, and Ibrahim Turaki,At the hearing,  Justice Abdulaziz Anka said he would deliver his ruling on an application by the plaintiff, seeking to introduce oral evidence in the suit as well as applications of defence counsel.The court also allowed the defence more time to regularise its processes before the court.Anka subsequently fixed March 14 for ruling.The applicant had filed the suit following alleged severeassault and beatings he suffered in the hands of Customs officials and some hoodlums allegedly hired by them.The suit which was filed in January 2016 had been fixed for mention on Feb. 22, March 17, and June 16, 2016 but had suffered some setbacks.On June 16, 2016 after the case was called, counsel to respondents had informed the court that the applicant was absent and had urged it to strike out the suit.Consequently, Justice Abdulazeez Anka struck out the suit.Meanwhile, on June 17, 2016, counsel to the applicant, Mr Jiti Ogunye re-filed the suit and served processes including his application to re-list the suit on the respondents.In the pending action, the applicant is claiming N500 million as damages against the Nigeria Customs Service for the assault he suffered at Seme border post of the customs on June 25, 2015.Olomofe is also asking the court to declare that the respondents in 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.He is claiming N500 million as damages for the infringement on his rights.