Italian reporter freed from Turkey after 2 weeks detention

  • As Court strikes out Obanikoro’s N100m suit against EFCC

An Italian journalist who was detained in Turkey recently while doing research for a book was released on Monday and flown straight back to Italy.

Gabriele Del Grande was arrested on April 9 close to Turkey’s border with Syria.

His detention caused strains between Rome and Ankara, with Italian Foreign Minister, Angelino Alfano, intervening directly to try to secure his release.

Gabriele Del Grande told newsmen after arriving at Bologna airport, where he met Alfano that “I did not suffer any violence and not a hair on my head was touched.

“However, I was the victim of institutional violence and I believe what happened to me was illegal.”

Report says Del Grande writes a blog Fortress Europe which focuses on efforts by migrants to reach Europe.

Turkey’s relations with Germany have also been strained by, among other things, the detention since February of a Turkish-German journalist accused by President Tayyip Erdogan of being a terrorist agent.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a press freedom group based in New York, no fewer than 81 journalists were imprisoned in Turkey in 2016, many after a failed attempt by the military to topple Erdogan.

In the meantime, the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday struck out the N100m fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Obanikoro, his wives, Fati and Moroophat, and his sons, Gbolahon and Babajide, had sued the anti-graft agency for what they termed an unlawful invasion of their houses and seizure of some of their properties.

They had, through their lawyer, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), urged the court to declare as null and void the items seized from their houses on June 14, 2016 by the EFCC.

They also prayed the court to award N100m damages against the EFCC in their favour for the violation of their rights to privacy.

But in a ruling on Monday, Justice Abdulaziz Anka struck out Obanikoro’s suit for being incompetent.

The judge upheld the preliminary objection by the EFCC lawyer, E.E. Iheanacho, who contended that “since the main claim of the applicants was founded on tort, their principal reliefs are not maintainable under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009.”

The judge noted that the applicants’ houses were searched by the EFCC based on search warrants secured by the anti-graft agency from the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court.

Justice Anka said he could not declare the recovered items as null and void, so as not to foreclose the possibility of the EFCC tendering them as exhibits in imminent criminal case against the Obanikoros.

Additional report from Punch