Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, 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 “unlawfully” held in the custody of the Department of State Security, DSS for about two years without charging him to court.
In the suit, which was filed on Tuesday, sought among other things, an order directing the DSS to release the journalist and pay him the sum of N200m in damages for the illegal violation of his fundamental rights.
The applicant also urged the court to declare his detention in Abuja, without access to his family members, friends and medical doctors, since his arrest on July 21, 2016 as illegal and unconstitutional.
Mr. Falana averred that the detention of his client violates his fundamental rights including, rights to personal liberty, dignity of person, fair hearing, health and association, as well as freedom of association, which are 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.
An affidavit in support of the suit, signed by a litigation clerk in Falana’s law firm, Paul Ochayi, said that Abiri was arrested without warrant by “the armed agents” of the DSS in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on July 21, 2016.
It added, “there is no court order which authorised the detention of the applicant” and that the agency, “has not charged the applicant to any court.
“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.
“That Abiri who has aged parents, wife and children has not committed any offence known to law to warrant his continuous, unwarranted and illegal detention.”
The case is yet to be assigned to a judge.
The DSS under the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of human rights violaton – including detaining people indefinitely and disobeying court orders.
The Security agency is yet to obey court orders, directing the release of former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who has been in detention since December 2015.