A High Court sitting in Ibiono, Uyo judicial division has dismissed a case filed by one journalist, Edet Okon Okpo against the Rector Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Commodore Duja Effedua, stating that the retired Naval officer has every right to write a petition to the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), demanding that an investigation be carried out over cases of perceived commission.
According to the judgement delivered by Hon. Justice Okon A. Okon on the 15th of February, 2022, the court also stated that the Edet Okpo admitted that Commodore Duja Effedua received threatening messages which entailed blackmail and criminal extortion.
According to excerpts of the judgement, “While covering court cases in the High Court of Ibiono, within the Uyo Judicial division on 15th February, 2022, the Court in Suit No. HIT/FHR/12/2020 Between: Edet Okon Okpo (Applicant) and Commodore Emmanuel Effedua (Rtd) – Rector Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron (1st Respondent), Inspector Patrick Edet (IPO. Police Zonal Head Quarters, Zone 6) (2nd Respondent) and Assistant Inspector General of Police, Calabar (3rd Respondent) dismissed the case against the 1st Respondent (Commodore Emmanuel Effedua), in its entirety, as follows:
“I find no credible evidence to find that the 1st Respondent instigated the arrest and detention of the Applicant (Edet Okpo) beyond sending his petition to the 2nd and 3rd Respondents to investigate in exercise of his civic duties to report possible commission of crime to the police for investigation. Even the applicant has admitted that the 1st Respondent received threatening messages which entailed blackmail and criminal extortion etc.
“Generally, it is the duty of citizens to report case of commission of crime to the police for investigation and what happens after such report is entirely the responsibility of the police. The citizens cannot be held culpable for doing their civic duty unless it is shown that it is done mala fide. That I find no evidence of mala fide on the part of the 1st Respondent in writing his petition to the third Respondent which petition was not even directly written against the Applicant. To hold otherwise would amount to interfering with and/or prejudicing the ongoing trial of the Applicant at the Federal High Court Calabar upon the petition under reference in this Applicant.
“It is the decision of the Court that the 1st Respondent is found not liable for any evisceration of the right of the Applicant as asserted by the Applicant in the detention of the Applicant by the 2nd and 3rd Respondent from 17th to 23rd July 2020 in breach of section 35 (4) and (5) and Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)”. However, judgment was given against the 2nd and 3rd Respondents.”
In a related development, in Charge No. FHC/CA/51C/2020, Between Inspector General of Police and Edet Ekpo (Defendant) pending before the Federal High Court, Calabar, which came up for hearing on the 16th February 2022. The Court delivered a Ruling on the trial within trial and admitted the confessional statement of the Defendant in evidence. According to the ruling of the Court, the Defendant had on 24th November, 2021, denied making the said confessional statement which compelled the Court to conduct a trial within trial to ascertain the admissibility of the confessional statement or otherwise. The case was thereafter adjourned to the 15th day of March, 2022, for continuation of trial.