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Supreme Court affirms N25m damages awarded to PUNCH over Abacha’s regime’s illegal invasion, closure

The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the award of N25m damages to Punch Nigeria Limited, the publisher of PUNCH Newspapers, over the unlawful invasion and sealing up of the company’s premises on June 11, 1994, by security agencies under the regime of the late dictator, General Sani Abacha.

Security operatives comprising mainly the men of the Department of State Services and mobile policemen had invaded the company’s premises in the wee hours of June 11, 1994, the eve of the first anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by late Chief MKO Abiola but annulled by the then Ibrahim Babangida’s regime.

They disrupted the company’s business operations, harassed and detained its staff on the premises between 3am and 11am and continued to detain the then editor, Bola Bolawole, much thereafter.

Justice T. A Odunowo, then of the Federal High Court in Lagos had in his judgment delivered on July 29, 1994, awarded the sum of N25m in favour of PUNCH as damages.

Condemning the invasion of the company’s premises under the guise of protecting public security, the Federal High Court had in its judgment delivered about 25 years ago, ordered respondents comprising the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Department of State Services and the Chief of Army Staff, to pay the sum of N25m to the company as damages.

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