An FCT High Court in Abuja on Thursday awarded N100 million compensation against the Department of State Services(DSS) and three others for violating the fundamental rights of a man, Abdullahi Isiaka.
Others are the DSS Director, FCT Command, the Director-General, and an operative, Ibrahim Wase.
Isiaka alleged that the first to third respondents detained him for 85 days, from Nov 19, 2020 to Feb.12, 2021.
Delivering judgment on the enforcement of rights filed by Isiaka, Justice Peter Kekemeke held that the applicant had proved his case against the respondents to have the judgment in his favour.
He held that the 1st – 3rd Respondents did not place materials before the Court to enable it hold that the applicant was detained lawfully.
“Detaining the applicant for about 85 days without charging him to Court is a gross violation of his rights to personal liberty.
“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 dehumanize and torture.
“They must learn to operate within their limits,” he held.
The 1st – 3rd Respondents had relied on a Petition they received against the applicant bordering on threat to life, cheating, criminal conspiracy, breach of trust etc.
The petition is contained in Exhibit SS1 attached to the Counter Affidavit.
The judge noted that it was true that there was a petition by someone bordering on land transaction, which was the cause of the action of the three respondents.
He added that if a crime was committed which had nothing to do with internal security, the 1st – 3rd respondents had no business interfering in such matters.
“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,” he held.
The applicant claimed that sometime in 2015, he was given some title documents of a piece of land situated at Lugbe Abuja by another person to sell.
He added that he gave the documents to one Akin who said he had a buyer and that they were genuine and the land existed.
The applicant also claimed that on Nov. 19, 2020, at about noon, he was arrested in his house without a warrant.
He added that since his arrest, he had remained in detention at the DSS FCT detention facility, Asokoro.
He also alleged that the officers demanded N10 Million which his friend gave.