Court orders tinubu’s govt to prosecute, punish killers of Dele Giwa, others

A Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the Federal Government (FG) on Friday to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for the death of Dele Giwa, the creator of Newswatch Magazine, and other journalists across the country.

Justice Inyang Ekwo issued an order urging the Federal Government to take measures to avoid future attacks on journalists and other media practitioners.

According to News24 Nigeria, the applicant, the Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda, filed a lawsuit against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as the lone respondent on October 26, 2021.

In the application on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1301/2021, the applicant requested a declaration that the killings of different journalists and media practitioners in Nigeria violated their fundamental right to life.

This right, according to the group, is enshrined in Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and other provisions.

In the declaration, the group identified some of the journalists murdered in the course of their duty, including Dele Giwa, who was killed on October 19, 1986, and Bolade Fasisi of the National Association of Women Journalists on March 31, 1998.

Others include Edward Olalekan of Daily Times, who was murdered on June 1, 1999; Omololu Falobi of The Punch, who was murdered on October 5, 2006; Godwin Agbroko of Thisday, who was murdered on December 22, 1999; Abayomi Ogundeji of Thisday, who was murdered on August 17, 2008; and Edo Sule-Ugbagwu of The Nation, who was slain on April 24, 2010.

Justice Ekwo, who observed that the AGF did not submit any process to contradict the claims of the applicant, decided that since the group’s assertions were not disputed, such statements were assumed to be true.

“I have studied the response of the respondent to the averments of the applicant and I find the said averments to be generic nature and they do not controvert the case of the applicant specifically.

“The applicant has stated names of journalists killed in Paragraph J of the affidavit in support

“It is pertinent to note that the respondent has neither denied that these killings have taken placed or that these persons were not journalists or media practitioners.

“The position of the law is that affidavit evidence which is not challenged or controverted howsoever, is deemed admitted and can be relied upon by a court,” he said.

He said media is a constitutional profession, hence,the journalists and media practitioners ought to be protected in the course of the duties.

The judge said he found in the end that the applicant had established its case by credible evidence and ought to be entitled to the reliefs sought.

“An Order is hereby made directing the Federal Government of Nigeria to take measures to prevent attacks on journalists and other media practitioners.

“An Order is hereby made directing the Federal Government of Nigeria to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of all attacks against journalists and other media practitioners, and ensure that all victims of attacks against journalists have access to effective remedies.

“An Order is hereby made directing the Federal Government to take measures to raise awareness and build the capacities of various stakeholders, particularly journalists and other media practitioners, policy makers, law enforcement, security, intelligence, military as well as other officials and relevant stakeholders on the laws and standards for ensuring the safety of journalists and media practitioners.

“This is the judgment of this court,” Justice Ekwo declared.


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