Nigerian journalist, Uhia to remain in detention after 26 days as court fails to sit

All hope for freedom of the detained 72-year-old journalist, Pa. Oga Tom Uhia was dashed today as the court failed to hear the fundamental human rights enforcement suit instituted by his legal team.

Pa. Uhia has spent 26 days in secret detention at the Force CIID, Garki, Abuja, following his arrest after allegedly publishing an injurious report against the Nigeria’s Minister of State for Power, Chief Jeddy Agba.

The Publisher of Power Steering Magazine had dragged Chief Agba, the DIG in charge of Force CIID, Micheal Anthony Ogbizi, ACP. Tahir Usman, ACP. Gabriel Elaigwu, Rojas Elijah Elebel and the Nigeria Police Force as 1st to 6th respondents before Justice Peter Affen of FCT High Court, Maitama, Abuja, to enforce his fundamental rights to personal liberty as guaranteed by sections 35, 37, 41 and 43 of 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (as amended).

In the originating summons, the applicant is asking the court to award him the sum of N100m for his detention from Tuesday, 13th to 15th October, 2020, and his continued detention from Friday, 16th October 2020, after the fulfillment of the bail conditions till date without his arraignment before a court of competent jurisdiction.

Pa. Uhia is also demanding for another N10m as general damages for the mental trauma, unnecessary inconveniences, waste of time and expenses occasioned by the applicant’s continued detention by the respondents.

In a suit No: FCT/HC/M/10987/2020, the journalist is seeking a declaration that his detention at Force CID, Abuja, by the 2nd to 5th Respondents, all officers of 6th Respondent at the instance of the 1st Respondent from Tuesday, 13th October, 2020 to 15th October, 2020, and his continued detention from Friday, 16th October 2020, after the fulfillment of his bail conditions till date without his arraignment before a court of competent jurisdiction, is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and violates his rights to personal liberty guaranteed under Section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

His Counsel, Barr. Alex Oketa filed the suit on his behalf.

The matter was supposed to come up for hearing on Thursday, but was stalled due to the absence of the Judge.

Having waited in the courtroom for one and a half hours, a Legal Assistant to the Judge (name unknown) came to address counsels to both parties, urging them to pick a new date.

No official reason was given for shifting of the hearing.

Subsequently, a new date was fixed for Tuesday, 10th November 2020 for hearing and determination of the enforcement of human rights suit, when it shall be decided either that Pa. Uhia should be produced in court or not and his subsequent bail.


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