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Court fixes June 21 for The Daily Times’ N2bn human right suit against police, Sen Obiora

An FCT High Court on Monday fixed June 21 for hearing of N2billion Fundamental Human Rights suit filed by the publisher of The Daily Times Newspapers Mr. Fidelis Anosike and the Group Managing Director Barr. Noel Anosike against Senator Ikechukwu Obiora, Inspector General of Police and Hyacinth M. Dagala the DIG, FCIID for breached of their rights.

The matter which is before Justice Yusuf Halilu of FCT High Court High Jabi could not hold yesterday as the Court did not seat.
The plaintiffs are seeking an order of declaration that their arrest, detention and malicious prosecution by the respondents on a purely contractual dispute was unlawful, unconstitutional and a breach of their right to personal liberty.

A mandatory order directing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondent to pay to the applicants the sum of N2billion as damages for the unlawful arrest and detention of the applicants from the 15th day of January ,2018 to the 23rd day of January, 2018 and for malicious prosecution of the applicants on a purely contractual matter at the Chief Magistrate Court Mpape ,Abuja which was later withdrawn owing to their total baselessness.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2rd and 3rd respondents ,their agents ,servants official or privies from further breaching the fundamental human rights bases on the contractual issues of the purchase, ownership and management of the Daily Times of Nigeria plc, including the movable and immovable assets of the company.

The management of Folio Communications Plc, publishers of Daily Times newspaper, in statement signed by Bonaventure Melah, Managing Editor, Daily Times newspaper have vowed that no amount of harassment, intimidation and (or) persecution will compel them to surrender assets of the media company or withdraw the suit seeking redress over the impunity meted out on them.

They were reacting to news reports that the Nigerian Police has perfected plans to file fresh charges against the Publisher, Fidelis Anosike and Group Managing Director, Noel Anosike, few weeks after the Inspector General of Police Idris Abubakar expressly ordered in writing that all cases against them be withdrawn since there was no basis to commence the cases in the first place.

The company said that it amounts to daydreaming for the trio of the Police, Obiorah and Adewumi Ogunsanya to even imagine or think that by initiating another frivolous and unsubstantiated allegations, they may be compelled to give up their tights.

“We have read reports from some online papers that the Police have concluded plans to file fresh charges against the management of Folio Communications Plc, owners and publishers of Daily Times. This is purely childish on the part of the Police particularly, as well as laughable.

Just a few weeks back, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Idris Abubakar had invited the management of Folio Communications on the same matter and after investigation side by side the petitions relative to it, the IGP personally directed that all criminal cases against Folio and its owners, Fidelis and Noel Anosike be withdrawn which the Police complied with.

The petition on which the IGP took the decision also complained that Senator Obiora employed the services of DIG Hyacinth Dagala to invade Daily Times Abuja and Lagos offices, carted away many equipments and properties and how they were arrested and detained, refused bail alongside their staff.

The letter withdrawing the cases dated 2nd February, 2018 which was signed by ACP Henry Njoku Esq. and Omosun Mathew, Prosecution Officer was addressed to the Registrar, Mpape Magistrate Court, FCT Abuja which clearly said “Take notice that the prosecution wishes to discontinue the above stated cases before this Honourable Court.”

“For the Police to go back to its vomit, as they say of dogs, by again allowing itself to be bamboozled by Ikechukwu Obiorah and Adewumi Ogunsanya into planning to initiate fresh charges on the same matter does not only indicate a ‘stain’ but as well makes mockery of Police hierarchy,” the statement said, adding that the Police, Ikechukwu Obiorah and Adewumi Ogunsanya must have their days in the court beginning Monday for violating their fundamental rights and attempting to scavenge the assets of Daily Times.

“It would interest the public to know that there is a subsisting ruling by the Court of Appeal delivered in 2010 in Lagos which among others things stated clearly that the case involving Folio Communications and Sen. Ikechukwu Obiorah on Daily Times is purely civil and therefore no grounds for criminal charges or trial.

If Ikechukwu Obiorah is confident of his claims, why has he refused to challenge that Court of Appeal ruling in the Supreme Court? Why is he running from Court of Appeal down to Magistrate Courts?

“The Inspector General of Police Idris Abubakar has that Court of Appeal ruling as part of the annexure to the documents submitted during investigations.

The Police have documents containing investigations earlier carried out by the Police under Inspector General of Police Onovo in which the Police stated clearly that the case is civil and therefore no need to file criminal charges.

“This same Inspector General of Police is also in possession of documents in which the then Hon. Attorney General of the Federation as well as the Attorney General of Lagos State had both stated clearly that there was no cause for criminal prosecution on this matter.

The Police high command is also in possession of the various ruling by courts of different jurisdictions since this matter started over ten years ago to the effect that Daily Times is a legitimate property of Folio Communications including the most recent ruling of Monday 22nd May, 2018 in which His Worship R. J Egbe of Magistrate Court 13 Wuse Zone 2 Abuja said he was aware that there was an ownership dispute existing between Folio Communications Plc and Sen. Ikechukwu Obiora on Daily Times of Nigeria

as well as Consent Judgement entered between the two parties following resolution of the matter by stakeholders in 2006 which from records has not been vacated by any court of competent jurisdiction and therefore cannot grant the plaintiff’s prayers to stop the publication of Daily Times. This ruling was on a case instituted by Obiorah himself.

Hear what Magistrate Egbe stated in his ruling “However, I cannot feign ignorance or pretend that there is more to it. The totality of the evidence before me by way of affidavit evidence and exhibits particularly, exhibit 6, seems to me that there is an ownership dispute of the plaintiff between the defendants and the deponent to the counter- affidavit. The tort of passing – off can only be derived from the right of ownership.

Therefore, it is my view that it will be meaningless to deal with the right of passing off without the right of ownership. It will amount to placing something on nothing and a sheer waste of time and energy which this Court is not ready to embark on. The case is therefore struck out,” Magistrate Egbe ruled.

On the basis of the above therefore, Bonaventure stated that Folio Communications Plc and its management will continue to apply all legal and civil means to defend and protect Daily Times and its assets from property scavengers trying desperately to take what does not belong to them.

“Since 2005, Ikechukwu Obiorah, a lawyer, has been abusing judicial process using the Police and a few black legs in the judiciary. They have committed several acts of illegality and impunity using money and their contact with Police hierarchy.

They have been running from Magistrate courts to High Courts and back to Magistrate courts in desperate but futile attempts to hijack and take what is not theirs.

“If the Police, Ikechukwu Obiorah and Adewumi Adesanya like, they should send all the officers and men of the Nigeria Police to surround Daily Times properties in daylight display of abuse of judicial process and show of power and impunity. This they have done several times in the past without achieving their aim because you cannot take what is not yours.

On our part, Folio Communications Plc and its management shall, no matter what they do, continue to be law abiding, yet resolute in ensuring that justice is done and that assets of Daily Times are not stolen by anybody for that matter,” the statement concluded

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Ihesiulo Grace

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