Alleged rights breach: Court voids N10m fine against media house

Alleged rights breach: Court voids N10m fine against media house
January 17 10:10 2024 Print This Article

A Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on Tuesday, set aside a judgment directing the Human Rights Radio and Television Ltd. to pay a N10 million in damages to Mr Samuel Onaibre over alleged violation of his fundamental rights.Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the Jan. 20, 2022 judgment delivered by a sister court in Warri, Delta, was obtained by fraud and lack of service of process on the media station as required by law.

Justice Ekwo held that where a party alleged that a judgement was entered in a case in his absence, “It means that such judgement was obtained by procedure adopted which deprived the decision or judgement of the character of a legitimate adjudication.

He said the respondents, having not controvert the averments of the applicants, are deemed to have admitted the case of the applicants.

“An order is hereby made setting aside the judgement and orders delivered on 20th of January, 2022 by this honourable court, coram Honourable Justice Okon E. Abang in suit number: FHC/WR/CS/92/2019 between Mr. Samuel O. Onaibre v. Human Rights Radio and Television Ltd. & 2 Ors.,” he declared.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that following a judgment entered in favour of Mr Onaibre, the registrar of Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, by Justice Okon Abang at the Warri Division of a FHC in 2022, the media house filed another suit at the Abuja division, praying the court to vacate it.

While Human Rights Radio and Television Ltd was the 1st applicant, Mr Ahmed Isah, the CEO of the station, was the 2nd applicant in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1996/2022.

The applicants had sued Mr Samuel Onaibre, the Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police, ACP Fergus Manga and DSP Peter Tanda as 1st to 5th respondents respectively.

The applicants, who gave 12 grounds while the judgment should be vacated, averred that a complainant, Blessing Onu, a student of Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, sought the assistance of the media house, alleging that her school refused to award her National Diploma Certificate (NDC).

She alleged that the development resulted to her missing the opportunity to proceed to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme despite complying with all the requirements of the institution.

“On 25th February, 2019 during live broadcast of Brekete Family Programme at the 1st applicant’s radio station, he (Isah) intervened in the matter, requested and got the contact of the registrar, the 1st respondent, on record to hear the position of the school! on the matter.

“This was after failed efforts to make the school attend to the complaint without bringing it up on air.

“He put a call to the 1st respondent to enquire the truth and position of the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro which same was answered and the 1st respondent turned uncivil on the phone call, resorted to abusive, humiliating and unprintable name callings against him (Isah).

“He was compel to release the official phone number to the public to elicit the assistance of any listener who would like to persuade him (the registrar) to attend to the case of the complainant.

“He later realised that some of the listeners sent the 1st respondent (registrar) threatening and abusive messages upon which he lodged a petition against the applicants and the complainant to the Inspector-General of Police,” Isah, who deposed to the affidavit said.

He said despite amicable resolution of the matter by the police, and Onaibre promising to withdraw the suit with a notice of discontinuance of the suit served on him, he was surprised to hear about the judgment of the Warri court against him.

In his preliminary objection, Onaibre prayed Justice Ekwo to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the applicants’ originating motion was incompetent and an abuse of court process.

Delivering the judgment on Tuesday, Ekwo held that there are situations where the court is permitted to exercise jurisdiction, to set aside its own judgement or the judgement of a court of coordinate jurisdiction.

“This Includes, where the judgement is entered in default of the defendant’s appearance or in default of pleadings; where the judgment was obtained by fraud; where the judgement breached the fundamental right of a party; and where the judgement will work Injustice on one of the partes,” he said.

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