The court tells the FG to investigate and punish the people who killed Dele Giwa and others

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has mandated the Federal Government to probe and bring to justice the perpetrators behind the killings of Dele Giwa, the visionary behind Newswatch Magazine, and numerous other journalists across Nigeria.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, delivering the verdict on Friday in response to a petition filed by the incorporated trustees of Media Rights Agenda, also directed the government to implement preventive measures against future assaults on journalists and media professionals.

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The lawsuit, dated October 26, 2021, singled out the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as the sole respondent. The court, in its motion on notice labeled FHC/ABJ/CS/1301/2021, was petitioned to acknowledge that the murders of journalists in Nigeria constitute a blatant infringement of their fundamental right to life.

Citing a catalogue of tragic incidents, the affidavit submitted by the plaintiff highlighted the brutal killings of journalists such as Dele Giwa in 1986, Bolade Fasisi in 1998, Edward Olalekan in 1999, Omololu Falobi in 2006, Godwin Agbroko in 1999, Abayomi Ogundeji in 2008, and Edo Sule-Ugbagwu in 2010.

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Notably, Justice Ekwo noted the absence of any rebuttal from the AGF’s office, thereby affirming the validity of the plaintiff’s assertions. Consequently, the court issued a series of directives to the Federal Government:

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1. Take proactive measures to safeguard journalists and media practitioners from attacks.
2. Launch thorough investigations, prosecutions, and penalties for those responsible for assaulting journalists.
3. Ensure all victims of such attacks receive appropriate remedies.
4. Conduct awareness campaigns and capacity-building initiatives for stakeholders, including journalists, policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and other relevant parties, regarding laws and standards aimed at protecting journalists and media personnel.

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“This verdict stands as the decree of this honorable court,” declared Justice Ekwo, underscoring the gravity and importance of the judgment.

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