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Nigerian journalist wins landmark court victory

(CPJ/IFEX) - 12 October 2012 - The following is a CPJ Blog post:

By Peter Nkanga/CPJ West Africa Consultant

"If a journalist can't fight for his own right, then he has no responsibility to fight for others," Desmond Utomwen, a senior correspondent with TheNews Magazine/PM News, told me after a High Court judge on October 4 awarded him 100 million naira (US $637,000) in special damages from the Nigeria Police Force and Guarantee Trust Bank Plc.

Utomwen's victory represents the largest award for any journalist in Nigeria's 52-year history as an independent nation and sets a clear precedent for the country's beleaguered press.

Utomwen was cruelly brutalised by several policemen in collaboration with staff of Guarantee Trust Bank on December 11, 2009, for covering a peaceful protest outside the bank's premises in Area 3 of the capital, Abuja. The bank's customers were protesting alleged fraudulent ATM withdrawals said to have been made by the bank's officials, according to local journalists and news reports.

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