June 12, 2009

Police, NUJ members trade words over attempt to seize AIT’s camera

By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—There was a mild drama yesterday at the premises of the Federal High Court during the arraignment of the former aide to Bayelsa State governor, Mr. Famous Daunemigha, over alleged illegal possession of firearms, as men of Bayelsa State Police Command and members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) were locked in a war of words.

The incident resulted from attempt by some policemen to seize a camera belonging to the reporter of  African Independent Television (AIT), Mr. Tifeoluwa Owolabi.
The plain-cloth officers attached to the State Criminal Investigation Department and led by Supol Mfon Idomo, had claimed that the use of the camera to record the arrival of the arrested former aide to the court premises was wrong, but the claim was dismissed by newsmen present at the court.

The intervention of the court bailiffs who pleaded for silence ended the drama which was getting out of hand.

Two units of armed mobile policemen, led by a superintendent of police, were outside the premises trying to control the agitated crowd of youths and women that had converge outside the entrance of the court premises to give support to the detained former aide to the governor.

However, the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa yesterday fixed June 16 for the hearing of argument on the motions for the bail of the former aide to the governor on Youths and Mobilization, Famous Daunemigha.

The charge, as prepared by the police read:   “That you Famous Daunemigha on the 6th day of June, 2009, at No 42 Baybridge road, Kpansia within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, had in your possession two pump action guns reasonably suspected of having been stolen or unlawfully obtained, thereby committing an offence punishable under section 27(b)(i) of the Fire Arms Act CAP F.28 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004.”   The accused pleaded not guilty.

In his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Olayinka Faji, directed the counsel to the Police, Mr. .A. Ogbeiwe, to prepare his address on the plea of counter motion against the accused bail application by June 15.

Justice Faji directed that the accused be remanded in prison custody until the matter comes for hearing on June 16.