N500m suit: Journalist assaulted by Customs may suffer Glaucoma, says health official


A health official, Akintayo Akintoba, on Monday in Lagos testified that several tests including a CT scan on the brain were conducted on a journalist, Yomi Olomofe, following an alleged battering by some officials of the Nigerian Customs Service on June 25, 2015.

Olomofe had slammed a N500m suit on the Customs Service for the alleged physical assault he suffered in the hands of the men at Seme Border Post in Badagry, Lagos State.

Akintoba, the second witness to be called, told a Federal High Court in Lagos in his oral evidence that series of medical examinations were conducted to ascertain the health status of the journalist.

Lagos Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists had filed the suit on behalf of Olomofe, seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights to life, freedom of expression and the press.

Joined as respondents in the suit are the then Comptroller-General of Customs,  Abdullahi Diko Nde, the Seme Area Controller of Customs, Muhammed Ndalati, and a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Emmanuel Nkemdirim.

Others are Ibrahim Turaki, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs at Seme, Sam Madubueke, alias “big Sam of Ibiye”, Suleiman Momoh, alias “Basket”, one Elijah and Shehu.

At the last adjournment on April 25, Olomofe had given oral evidence, recounting how he was assaulted by some men at Customs premises at Seme.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, counsel to Olomofe, Jiti Ogunye, called the second witness for the applicant (Akintoba).

Akintoba, who introduced himself as a medical officer with the Lagos State Government, said he practices as a family physician and also takes care of emergency situations.

He told the court that he received a phone call on June 25, 2015, from a Rotary Club member, Taiwo, informing him of an attack on Olomofe by some hoodlums at Customs premises at Seme.

According to him, Olomofe is a close friend he had known since 2009, and he decided to give him free medical services.

The witness said following the beating, an ambulance conveyed Olomofe to the hospital, but the workers were on strike.

“By my position as a health official, I assisted in taking the applicant to Care Givers Hospital, where emergency tests were run.

“He was later conveyed to Ajara for a detailed medical examination and investigation.”

Akintoba also told the court that considering the condition of the applicant, he advised him to lodge a complaint with the police for documentation.

He said from his assessment, he discovered that the applicant had sustained soft tissue injuries, including a head injury.

“I ordered that a CT scan for the brain should be conducted on the applicant to ascertain the level of brain damage.

“Although the results of the CT digital skull x-ray appeared normal, a victim could still suffer from a post-traumatic stress.

“An examination was also conducted on the eyes because at the time he was conveyed to the hospital, he had severe injuries and pressure in the eyes.

“If adequate care is not given the victim, he could suffer Glaucoma that could lead to blindness,” he said.

The witness said during the period, he received several threat calls from some mobile numbers and warned them to desist from calling him.

After his evidence, Justice Anka adjourned until July 13 for a cross-examination.

In the suit, the applicant is claiming the sum of N500m as damages against the Customs and asking the court to declare that the respondents infringed on his right to life as guaranteed by Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

He also wants the court to declare that the assault on him in the course of discharging his professional duties and obligations, constituted an infringement of his rights to freedom of expression and the press.