Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court will on September 13, 2018, deliver judgment in the N200 million fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by the recently released journalist, Jones Abiri, against the State Security Service (SSS).
Dimgba, who is sitting as a vacation judge, fixed the date yesterday after counseling to both parties to the suit adopted their arguments for and against the suit.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/698/2018, and filed by Femi Falana, Abari, publisher of a Bayelsa State-based weekly paper, Weekly Source, told the court that he was arrested by operatives of Nigeria’s SSS on July 21, 2016, and detained till July 2018 without trial.
While describing his arrest and detention as unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional, the journalist asked the court to compel the SSS to pay him N200 million as general and aggravated damages for the illegal violation of his rights and torture experienced during his detention by the operatives.
His counsel, Samuel Ogala, argued that the prolonged detention without trial violated his right to personal liberty, the dignity of the person, freedom of association and fair hearing, among others. He based his case on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as well as articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, CAP A10, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.
Ogala further submitted that the detention of his client in Abuja by the respondent without access to his medical doctors since July 21, 2016, till date was illegal and unconstitutional as it violated his fundamental rights to health, as enshrined in Articles 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, CAP A10, laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004. He urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the motion on notice.
However, counsel to the SSS, Godwin Agbadua, urged the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the offense upon which the applicant was being held was militancy, which is punishable by death.
Agbadua informed the court that Abiri was hiding under the journalism profession to carry out criminal activities.
The SSS further told the court that, in the confessional statement that he volunteered to them, Abiri confessed that “he and others conceived the idea of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF) in Bayelsa in 2016.
He said that the journalist was the leader of the Joint Revolutionary Council of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, which has separatist inclinations and known ties with criminal gangs.
Agbadua further informed the court that “the applicant voluntarily stated his nickname as General Akotebe Darikoro and that he is the leader and media coordinator of the group.
That they carried out two weeks’ attacks at Ogboinbiri and Brass pipelines that distribute crude oil in Bayelsa State.”
The secret service further told the court that “they demanded N250 million from Agip Oil Nigeria Limited to stop an attack on their facilities.
That between June and July 2016, the JNDLF blew up Nigeria Agip Oil Company trunk line in Ogboinbiri, Southern Ijaw LGA, and the bombing of oil pipeline belonging to Shell Development Company at Brass Local Government Area.”