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Wednesday 17 August 2022

Nigerian Court slams DSS for unlawful and arbitrarily detaining a man for six years

 Nigerian Court slams DSS for unlawful and arbitrarily detaining a man for six years

THE Federal High Court in Abuja has come down hard on the Department of State Service (DSS) and its Director- General (DG) for illegally detaining a Nigerian – Henry Parker Chime – and subjecting him to inhuman treatment for about six years.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a judgment on a fundamental rights enforcement suit by Chime, upheld the case made out for him by his lawyers, Sampson Ubong and Egbe Okara, to the effect that the DSS and its DG acted arbitrarily and abused their powers.

Justice Nwite awarded N50 million against the DSS and its DG as general and exemplary damages, in addition to N50,000 as cost of prosecuting the suit by the applicant.

According to court documents, Chime, an Information Technology expert, worked with an IT firm, West Digital Ltd, but quit on April 19, 2012 after he had a misunderstanding with the firm’s Managing Director (MD), Afolaso Kiloso.

West Digital Ltd was then an IT consultant to the Presidential Pension Reform Task Force, headed by the now jailed Abdulrasheed Maina.

Men of the DSS were said to have stormed Chime’s home in Kabayi, Mararaba, Nasarawa State and arrested him on February 15, 2013 only to release him on August 22, 2018 after subjecting him to all forms of inhuman treatment, without taking him before any court.

Justice Nwite, in the judgment delivered on June 29, 2022 in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/215/2019, a copy of which The Nation sighted in Abuja on Sunday, held that Chime effectively proved his case against the DSS and its DG.

The judge noted that the applicant’s case was that he was “on  15th February, 2013, arrested by men of the Department of State Services for no reason at his residence at 47 St. Theresa Street, Kabayi Mararaba in Nassarawa State.

“The applicant was horribly detained in the solitary detention cell of the  respondents at their headquarters at Aso Drive, Abuja from that 15th February, 2013 to 22nd August, 2018 a period of whooping five years and eight months incommunicado, without any trial or court order.

‘’No charge was ever brought against the applicant even at the time of filing this application

“The applicant was tortured through blindfolding, chaining of his hands and legs as well as keeping him in solitary confinement for such a period of time.

“The 1st and 2nd respondents’ allegations that the applicant  leaked or published State Security Service (SSS) information was not only denied by him, but all those whom they alleged the information was leaked to.

‘’At the end, the respondents found nothing against the applicant as far back as June, 2013, yet, they wilfully and unlawfully kept him in solitary detention until  August 22, 2018 when they unilaterally released him, but with a warning not to disclose either his detention or circumstances of same to anyone, otherwise they will re-arrest him.”

Justice Nwite noted that the SSS and its DG failed to disprove the facts and evidence led by Chime, but merely engaged in “feeble and general denial…in their counter affidavit, without denying specifically, the facts contained in the various paragraphs of the affidavit in support of the originating motion.”

This the judge held, “does not amount to a denial of those facts in law. In the instant case, the 1st and 2nd respondents merely deposed that paragraphs 6 – 29 of the affidavit in support of the originating motion are false and untrue.

“They never stated their own side of the story to controvert all the specific allegations of facts deposed in those paragraphs.”

Justice Nwite said he was convinced that the SSS and its DG unlawfully detained Chime, abused their powers and violated the applicant’s fundamental rights.

He held that the applicant made out no case against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), named as the 3rd respondent in the case.

The judge said: “In this instant case, the 1st and 2nd respondents detained the applicant for a period of five years and eight months in violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights and did not place any materials before the court with which the court can determine the reasonability of the period of such detention.

“I further hold that in the said detention of the applicant, the 1st and 2nd respondents violated Section 35(5)(b) of the Constitution.”

Justice Nwite proceeded to among others, declared the arrest and detention unlawful, restrained the SSS and its DG from further arresting and detaining the applicant on the issue, and awarded N50,050,000 as general and exemplary damages and cost in favour of the applicant.

Source The Nations

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