An FCT High Court, 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.
The cost was awarded on Thursday, against the Department of State Services (DSS), the DSS Director, FCT Command, the Director-General and one of its operatives, Ibrahim Wase.
Isiaka alleged that the first to third respondents detained him for 85 days, from Nov 19, 2020 to Feb.12, 2021.
Delivering judgement on the enforcement of right filed by Isiaka, Justice Peter Kekemeke, held that detaining the applicant for about 85 days without charging him to Court, was a gross violation of his rights to personal liberty.
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 dehumanise 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 claimed to have given the documents to one Akin, who met him under the pretence of having a buyer who wanted to confirm the authenticity of the land title.
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.
He also alleged that operatives of the DSS demanded N10 million, which was paid by his friend, but he still was not released until February 2021.
Following his release, he approached the court seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights.