Court declares detention of Ekiti lawmaker illegal, awards N5 million damages

Ekiti Lawmaker in DSS: Department of State Services, DSS paraded Hon. Akanni Afolabi who was alleged to have died at DSS custody. Photo by Ladidi Lucy Elukpo.

Ekiti Lawmaker in DSS: Department of State Services, DSS paraded Hon. Akanni Afolabi who was alleged to have died at DSS custody. Photo by Ladidi Lucy Elukpo.

The Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti Division yesterday declared as “illegal and a flagrant violation of the 1999 constitution” the arrest and detention of a member of the Ekiti State House ofAssembly, Afolabi Akanni for 18 days by the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) for undisclosed reasons.

To this end, the court ordered the security agency to pay the lawmaker a fine of N5 million as damages for what it described as “illegal arrest and continued detention for 18 harrowing, excruciating and brain-cudgeling days, without access to his lawyers and family.”

Akanni, representing Efon constituency, was allegedly on March 4, this year arrested within the premises of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and whisked to Abuja by men of the DSS, where he was detained for 18 days before being let off the hook.

Akanni’s lawyer, Obafemi Adewale, had on March 11, through an ex parte motion sought for the enforcement of the fundamental human rights of the detained lawmaker, adding that Akanni should be brought before the court to face trial rather than continued detention.

Delivering his judgment, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, noted that the respondent (DSS), had all along failed to either deny or defend the position, as well as the facts and allegations of the applicant, adding that in the eyes of the law; “There is no basis for the court to believe that all that the applicant had alleged against the DSS were not true.”

He said, “Akanni’s fundamental rights 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 DSS in illegally arresting and continually detaining him for 18 days.”

The court also granted three out of the four reliefs sought by the applicant’s counsel which include: “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 counsel to the plaintiff apologised for Akanni’s physical absence and explained to the presiding judge that the lawmaker was still in a hospital outside the state receiving treatment.



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