The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti has on Wednesday fined the State Security Services, SSS, the sum of N5 million for illegally arresting and detaining a member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Afolabi Akanni representing Efon Constituency 1.
Recall that Mr. Akanni was arrested on March 4 following which he was detained for 18 days by the SSS operatives before he was eventually released on March 22.
Akanni in absentia but ably represented by his counsel, Obafemi Adewale told the court presided over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, that his client’s absence from the court was due to ‘post-traumatic’ treatment which he was now receiving in an hospital outside the state.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo in his judgement said that the DSS failed to either deny or defend the position, facts and allegations of the applicant. He added that: “there is no basis for the court to believe that all that the applicant had alleged against the DSS were not true.”
He further added that the fundamental rights of Mr. Akanni as a citizen of Nigeria as specified by the principles of the Rule of Law and the African Charter on the Rights of individuals, had been violated by the SSS.
The court also granted three of the four reliefs sought for by the applicant, the reliefs are: “whether the applicant’s unlawful arrest and detention is justified , whether the said intimidation, torture and continued detention is not a violation of his fundamental human rights and a violation of the Rule of Law, and whether the applicant’s is not entitled to damages”.
The applicant’s counsel after the court session said: “This is not about Afolabi Akanni, it is not about the Ekiti State House of Assembly, and it is not about Governor Fayose. It is about the ordinary man on the streets who has this right but who is now facing an apparent trend all over the federation of a gradual return to the days of impunity when security agencies trudge relentlessly on the rights of the citizens of this country under various guises,” he said.
“The people working in security have their limits as specified by the laws that created them but most of them operate as if they are above the law.
“What the court has done today is to again re-emphasize that we have a constitution in Nigeria which is supreme to every other organs of government and which guides every of our conduct including the President of the country.
“It is not even about the N5 million awarded for damages and the court has stated that when you do what the DSS has done to Akanni, the fine must be paid. Within the parameters of the law, we will ensure that the money is paid by the Respondent.”
The Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Kola Oluwawole, in reaction to the judgement said: ”The judgment is a vindication of our position that the DSS’ invasion of the state House on March 4 was an aberration,
“We cried to the world over this. The opponents were giving excuses and the DSS were not even helping the matter, but the judgment has shown that the DSS’ action was illegal.”