Jones Abiri: Court delivers judgment in N200m suit against DSS

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Godwin Tsa, Abuja


Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court will, on September 13, 2018, deliver judgment in the N200 million fundamental enforcement rights suit instituted by the recently released journalist, Jones Abiri, against the Department of State Services (DSS).

Justice Dimgba who is sitting as a vacation Judge fixed the date yesterday, after counsel 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 (SAN), Abari, a publisher of a Bayelsa State-based weekly paper, Weekly Source, told the court that he was arrested by operatives of Nigeria’s State security service in July 21, 2016 and detained till July 2018 without trial.

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While describing his arrest and detention as unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional, the embattled journalist has asked the court to compel the SSS to pay him the sum of 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 of his client without trial violates his right to personal liberty, dignity of person, freedom of association and fair hearing among others.

He rooted 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 at Abuja by the respondent without access to  his medical doctors,  since July 21, 2016, till date is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates  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 accordingly 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 offence upon which the applicant was being held was acts of militancy, which is punishable by death.

Agbadua informed the court through a counter affidavits that Abiri was hiding under the Journalism profession to carry out criminal activities.

The State Security Service further told the court that in his confessional statement 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.”

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That the Journalist is the leader of the Joint Revolutionary Council of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, which have separatist inclinations and known ties with criminal gangs.

Agbadua further informed that 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 Millom 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 (NAOC) trunk line in Ogboinbiri, Southern Ijaw LGA and bombing of oil pipeline belonging to Shell Development Company (SPDC) at Brass Local Government Area.”

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