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Falana files N200m suit against DSS for journalist’s 2-year-old detention

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LAGOS—HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja on behalf of a journalist, Jones Abiri, who has been held in the custody of the Department of State Security for about two years without charge.

Femi Falana

The court papers obtained on Wednesday showed that the suit filed on Tuesday, sought among other prayers an order directing the DSS to pay to the journalist the sum of N200m in damages for the illegal violation of his fundamental rights.

The suit prayed for a declaration that the detention of the journalist in Abuja without access to his family members, friends and medical doctors since his arrest on July 21, 2016 “is illegal and unconstitutional”.

Falana argued that the detention “violates” the applicant’s fundamental rights” including, rights to personal liberty, dignity of person, fair hearing, health and association, as well as freedom of association.

He also contended that Abiri’s rights   which were violated by the DSS were guaranteed by sections 34, 35 and 40 of the Constitution as well as Articles 11 and 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

While praying for order directing the DSS to pay to the applicant the sum of N200m as “general and aggravated damages”, Falana urged the court to also make “an order directing the immediate release of the applicant (Abiri) from the custody of the respondent (DSS) forthwith”.

He also prayed the court to make “an order restraining the restraining the respondent from further violating the applicant’s fundamental rights in any manner whatsoever, and howsoever without lawful justificiation”.

A litigation clerk in Falana’s law firm, Mr. Paul Ochayi, said in an affidavit filed in support of the suit that Abiri was arrested without warrant by “the armed agents” of the DSS in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on July 21, 2016.

The affidavit added that the DSS added that “there is no court order which authorised the detention of the applicant” and that the agency, “has not charged the applicant to any court”.



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