The family of Tom Uhia, the publisher of Power Steering Newspaper, currently detained by the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the Nigeria Police Force in Area 10, Abuja, has accused the police of denying him access to his doctor.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Ohia, 73-year-old journalist, has been arrested and detained since October 13 following a petition dated July 1, 2020, by a lawyer, Obi Nwakor, on behalf of the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba.
Power Steering Magazine, in its June 2020 edition, was accused of defaming the character of Mr Jedy-Agba by claiming the minister had some knowledge about the Dana plane crash of 2012 while serving as a senior manager with the Nigeria Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The magazine also accused the minister of wrongdoing during his days at the NNPC.
While Mr Uhia has spent over 20 days in detention without arraignment, the family said the publisher, who is critically ill, has not been permitted to see his doctor.
Mr Uhia’s daughter, Jennifer, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, said the police are not also allowing her father to take drugs prescribed to him by his medical attendant.
“My dad who is critically ill has not been permitted to see his doctor. He is terribly sick as we speak and has high blood pressure. When I visited him yesterday, his blood pressure has risen to so high but the police do not allow doctors to see him.
“We tried to get him drug but they also denied us. They said only the police doctors can attend to him and my dad told me no doctor has seen him. He was returning from hospital when he was arrested on October 13 and since then has not taken any medication,” she said.
When our correspondent called the police spokesperson, Frank Mba, on the incident, he did not respond to calls and texts messages.
Already, the minister had distanced himself from the publisher’s arrest and detention.
Mr Jedy-Agba said he only petitioned the police to investigate all allegations levelled against him by Mr Ohia’s magazine.
“I am not in any way related to his detention and I did not ask that he should be arrested. All I did was to petition the police to investigate the matter,” the minister told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.
The defamation case, which Mr Uhia is being detained for, can be treated as a civil matter which does not require police intervention.
Even with the involvement of police, Section 35 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution clearly states that the police should not detain any suspect for longer than 48 hours without a court order.
The publisher’s lawyer, Alexander Oketa, said he has filed an application to enforce Mr Uhia’s fundamental rights against the police and the minister.
The matter will come on November 5, at FCT High Court before Justice Peter Affen, PREMIUM TIMES learnt