Spokesman to former military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, Kassim Afegbua has sued the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and two media houses, accusing them of violating his fundamental human rights by declaring him wanted over the statement he issued for his principal.
There was controversy over the authenticity of the letter written last Sunday by Afegbua on behalf of Babangida.
The police, through its spokesman, Moshood Jimoh later issued a statement declaring Afegbua wanted for allegedly “making false statements, defamation of character and for an act capable of instigating public disturbance throughout the country”.
In a suit he filed on Tuesday, marked: FFHC/ABJ/CS/129/2018, before the Federal High Court, Afegbua faulted the police’s decision to declare him wanted without first inviting him.
The fundamental rights enforcement suit suit filed by his lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, also has Jimoh, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Channels Televisions Limited as respondents
Afegbua argued that he had not been formally invited by the police before declaring him wanted and thereby painted him “as a fugitive and common criminal with no modicum of dignity”.
Afegbua described his being declared wanted as witch-hunt, harassment, intimidation and persecution, as his boss had not denied the statement he issued on his behalf.
Justifying the inclusion of the media houses in the suit, Afegbua said the police, the IGP and the Force PRO deployed the platforms of NTA and Channels Televisions to declare him wanted.
He argued that it was needless declaring him wanted having not been formally invited by the police or resisted arrest by the police.
Afegabua wants the court to declare that “the continued witch-hunt, harassment, intimidation, and persecution of the applicant or threats thereof by the respondents ostensibly on the basis of a letter he wrote on behalf of his principal, General lbrahim Badamosi Babangida GCFR, when his principal has not lodge any formal complaint to the police or any other security agency”.
He prayed the court to declare that the decision by the 1st to 3rd respondents to declare him wanted, using the media of the 4th to 5th respondents, when there has been no formal invitation extended to the applicant or any attempt has been made to arrest him and he has resisted or refuse to honour such invitation do not only constitute prosecutorial misconduct, malicious process, misfeasance in public office by the 1st to 3rd respondents but also infringe unjustifiably, illegally and unconstitutionally upon the applicant’s fundamental rights to life, dignity of human person, liberty to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, to freedom of expression, association and movement”.
The plaintiff claimed his said rights were “guaranteed and protected respectively by sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 2,4,5,6,7,9,1o,11,12 and 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement)Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
Afegbua prayed the court for “an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents by themselves, their officers, servants, agents and privies from (I) the continued witch-hunt, harassment, intimidation, and persecution of the Applicant or threats thereof ostensibly on the basis of a letter he wrote on behalf of his principal, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida GCFR”.
He also wants “an order directing the respondents to stay all action and to desist forthwith from proceeding with any process whatsoever, including but not limited to any purported investigation, detention, prosecution of the applicant or otherwise, which is connected, associated with or premised upon the letter he wrote on behalf of his principal, General lbrahim Badamosi Babangida GCFR.”
Afegbua, who seeks NGN1billion as damages against the respondents for the breach of his fundamental rights, equally wants “an order directing the respondents to apologise to the applicant through the media of the 4th to the 5th respondents and three national newspapers.”
The grounds for his claims includes that he is a renowned journalist, publisher, writer, spokesperson for General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, GCFR and former Commissioner in Edo State”
Afegbua said he “wrote a letter on behalf of his principal, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida GCFR on February 4, 2016, which was widely publicised”.
He said there was another letter, “purportedly to have emanated from the applicant’s principal on the evening of the same February 4, 2018”.
He said: “There has been no formal complaint by the applicant’s principal to the police or any other security agency of any infraction by the Applicant.
“The 1st to 3rd respondents, through the media of the 4th and 5th respondents declared the applicant wanted and the action of the respondents has put the life of the applicant in serious jeopardy and he now has real trepidation for his life.
“There was no formal invitation to the applicant from the 1st to 3rd respondents and there was no attempt by the 1st to 3rd respondents to arrest the applicant.
“The applicant has not refused to honour any formal invitation by the 1st to 3rd respondents and he has not resisted arrest by the applicant, hence there is no basis for declaring the applicant wanted.
“The 4th to 5th respondents used their media to broadcast to the whole world that the applicant is wanted at the behest of the 1st to 3rd respondents,” Afegbua said.