Troubling times for Nigerians as citizens bemourn the abuse of police special anti-robbery squad, SARS for its alleged harassment and torture of suspects, the State Security Service, SSS self-styled as Department of State Security DSS has come into the spotlight after its arrest of Abia South Senator, Eyinnaya Abaribe and the continued detention without charge of former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswan.
Now Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, has filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja on behalf of a journalist, Jones Abiri, who has been held in the custody of the Department of State Security for about two years without charge.
The PUNCH on Wednesday obtained the court papers showing that the suit filed on Tuesday, sought among other prayers an order directing the DSS to pay to the journalist the sum of N200m in damages for the illegal violation of his fundamental rights.
The suit prayed for a declaration that the detention of the journalist in Abuja without access to his family members, friends and medical doctors since his arrest on July 21, 2016 “is illegal and unconstitutional”.
Falana argued that the detention “violates” the applicant’s fundamental rights” including, rights to personal liberty, dignity of person, fair hearing, health and association, as well as freedom of association.
He also contended that Abiri’s rights which were violated by the DSS were guaranteed by sections 34, 35 and 40 of the Constitution as well as Articles 11 and 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
A litigation clerk in Falana’s law firm, Mr. Paul Ochayi, said in an affidavit filed in support of the suit that Abiri was arrested without warrant by “the armed agents” of the DSS in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on July 21, 2016.
The affidavit added that the DSS added that “there is no court order which authorised the detention of the applicant” and that the agency, “has not charged the applicant to any court”.
The supporting affidavit said, “That the respondent’s agents brought the applicant from Yenogoa to Abuja on July 21, 2016 and have since then held him incommunicado.
“That the respondent has failed to charge the applicant with any offence.”
It also said that Abiri who “has his aged parents, wife and children…has not committed any offence known to law to warrant his continuous, unwarranted and illegal detention.”
The matter has yet to be assigned to a judge.