As a fallout of the illegal detention for two years, of Bayelsa State based journalist, Mr. Jones Abiri, by the Department of State Service (DSS), a Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the secret police to pay N10.5 million as compensation.
The court in its ruling, described the two years detention of the journalist as outright conviction and ordered the federal government to pay the N10 million as damages.
Mr. Abiri was arrested in August 2016 and detained for two years in a DSS detention facility. It took the outcry of the media, the public and his lawyers, led by human rights activist, Femi Falana who filed a fundamental suit against the Federal government before the secret police released him.
Abiri was arraigned at a magistrate court in Abuja on a count of militancy which could not be proven.
[penci_blockquote style=”style-2″ align=”none” author=””]According to the judge, the federal government should have filled the suit against the defendant and asked the court to refuse him bail, so that the court will use its discretion in determining whether Mr. Abiri should be granted bail on not[/penci_blockquote]
Speaking on Thursday, at a judgement on Abiri’s fundamental rights suit at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, the judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, said the federal government had no right to detain Mr. Abiri after taking his statement in 2016.
Dimgba noted that the DSS did not deny arresting and detaining him since July 2016, denying him access to his doctors, family and friends.
Having taken his statement, the applicant should have been arraigned,” Mr Dimgba ruled.
The judge said the federal government’s submission that Mr Abiri was detained in national security was baseless.
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According to the judge, the federal government should have filled the suit against the defendant and asked the court to refuse him bail, so that the court will use its discretion in determining whether Mr. Abiri should be granted bail on not
The court therefore declared Mr. Abiri’s detention illegal and an abuse of his fundamental rights and ruled that the DSS acted outside the provisions of the law regarding the Terrorism Prevention Act, and therefore, ordered the agency to pay the N10 million compensation.
Mr. Abiri, a Bayelsa State-based journalist and publisher of the Weekly Source Magazine, was arrested at his office in Yenagoa, the state capital, for his alleged link to armed militancy in the Niger Delta region, an allegation he denied.