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Court awards N100 million against DSS over violation of man’s fundamental rights

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Mr Abdullahi Isiaka has been awarded N100 million compensation by the FCT High Court in Abuja for the violation of his fundamental rights enshrined under the constitution.

The cost was awarded on Thursday against the Department of State Services (DSS), the DSS Director FCT Command, the Director-General, and one of its operatives, Ibrahim Wase.

The judge held that detaining the applicant for about 85 days without charging him to Court is a gross violation of his rights to personal liberty.

Backstory

  • Mr Isiaka submitted that in 2015, he was furnished with title documents of a piece of land which was situated in Lugbe, Abuja to sell.
  • He claimed to have given the documents to one Akin who met him under the pretence of having a buyer who wanted to confirm the authenticity of the land title.
  • According to Isiaka, on November 19, 2020, he was arrested without a warrant in his premises.
  • He averred that he had remained in detention of the DSS since his arrest. He also alleged that operatives of the DSS demanded N10 million which was paid by his friend but he still was not released until February 2021.
  • Following his release, he approached the court seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights.

How the judge ruled

According to Mr Isiaka, he was detained unlawfully for 85 days without being charged to court from November 19, 2020, to February 12, 2021.

Mr Isiaka instituted the suit seeking the enforcement of his fundamental right enshrined under the constitution.

Delivering judgement, the presiding judge held that Mr Isaiaka had proved his case against the respondents for the court to rule in his favour.

The judge held that DSS and others did not place enough evidence before the Court to enable it hold that Mr Isiaka was detained lawfully.

The judge said “His dignity was eroded while his right to fair hearing was truncated.

“Law enforcement agencies should be reminded that they are not lords to themselves.

“They are not masters of Nigerian citizens, they are not colonial forces on the prey to conquer, subdue dehumanise and torture.

The judge noted that “They must learn to operate within their limits,”

The respondents had claimed they received a petition against Mr Isiaka bordering on the threat to life, cheating, criminal conspiracy and breach of trust.

They presented a copy of the petition as Exhibit SS1 attached to their Counter Affidavit.

However, the judge said if they had received a petition in that regard which borders on land transactions and a crime was committed, the respondents had no business interfering in such matters.

The judge said “In the state of general insecurity in which we find ourselves, it worries on how the DSS will still find time to dabble into land transactions or ordinary criminal infractions which the Police can deal with.

“Consequently, the application succeeds, the respondents are hereby ordered to produce the Applicant from custody for the purpose of being granted bail and an order of Court granting the Applicant bail.

“It is hereby declared that the arrest and detention of the Applicant is unlawful, being a violation of the Applicant’s fundamental right.

“The activities of the 1st, 2nd & 3rd Respondents in interfering in land transaction matters between private individuals is beyond their functions and objectives.

“It, therefore, amounts to unlawful intimidation and harassment of the Applicant.

“An order of injunction restraining the Respondents from taking further steps in connection with the matter and N100 Million compensation in favour of the applicant is hereby granted,” the judge held.

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