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Rivers Activist, Erekosima slams N200m suit against Rotimi Amaechi, IGP over alleged harassment

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A Rivers State-based human rights activist, Onengiya Erekosima has dragged the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi before a Federal High Court in Abuja over the alleged use of security operatives to harass and intimidate him.

The Minister is being sued alongside the Inspector General of Police, IGP, as the 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

They are being accused of threatening his life and unjustly violating his fundamental human rights.

Erekosima who is the Founder and President of the Foundation for Peace and Non-violence in Nigeria is demanding the sum of N200 million jointly and severally against Amaechi and the Inspector General of Police as damages and compensation for the breach of his fundamental rights enshrined under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended).

In the suit, filed by Samuel Nwosu on his behalf, the activist asked the court to compel Amaechi and the IGP to pay him N200 million as compensation for the harassment and intimidation he suffered in the hands of the defendants unjustly over the years.

The activist also prayed for a declaration that Amaechi’s declaration, description and tagging him as a “Terrorist” without recourse to any due process of law infringed upon his fundamental rights to life, personal liberty, the dignity of his human person, freedom of movement, freedom from discrimination and right to private and family life.

“A declaration that Amaechi while in and out of office as the Executive Governor of Rivers State, instigated the arrest, molestation, harassment and intimidation of him in breach and/or threat of breach of his guaranteed rights of sections 34, 35 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended).

Among other reliefs, the applicant is seeking an order of injunction restraining the respondents, their servants, agents, officers and men from further harassing, molesting, intimidating and threatening him in any manner, howsoever, that is likely to breach or threaten the breach of his fundamental rights under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.

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In the court process, Erekosima in an affidavit averred that he used his NGO to broker peace and reconciliation between the then warring camps of Niger Delta Militants, a success which he claimed “vexed and displeased” the then Governor Amaechi.

He further claimed that he had openly confronted the 1st Respondent (Amaechi) before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee set up by the River State Government on account of the cache of arms and ammunition planted at Okochiri Okirika, River State to implicate one Ateke Tom during a visit of the then President of the Senate, David Mark.

“That the 1st respondent had in reaction declared, described, tagged, labelled and classified him as a terrorist and called upon the 2nd Respondent and his men to arrest the Applicant.

“The respondents through false arrests trumped up charges, intimidation and threats caused him to flee from Port Harcourt to Abuja.

Erekosima in the affidavit further claimed that the Respondents on becoming aware that he relocated to Abuja, engaged officers of the defunct Special Armed Robbery Squad SARS, to research, arrest and silence him, causing him to go into hiding.

That he lives continually in fear and apprehension of imminent danger to his life as a result of the Respondents continuing threats and harassments.

The activist also averred that he has complained to the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Human Rights Commission without any meaningful result or action taken by these authorities.

When the matter came up on Monday, the applicant’s counsel, Samuel Nwosu said the fundamental rights enforcement suit was ripe for hearing, having been served on the respondents.

However, Amaechi’s lawyer, Bolaji Oyun pleaded with the court for time to put his house in order and to regularize his counter-affidavit.

Wisdom Madaki who stood for the Inspector General of Police informed the court that he was ready to adopt his preliminary objection to the suit.

Consequently, the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako granted the request for adjustment and fixed March 9, for hearing.

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