*Plaintiff detained since July 17 for alleged link to Magu
A retired senior official of the Department of State Security Service (DSS), Abba Kaka Mohammed, has slammed a N2billion suit against the agency and the Attorney General of the Federation before the Federal High Court Abuja for unlawful detention.
Mohammed is praying the court to award the sum as general and aggregated damages against the agency for the illegal violation of his fundamental rights to life and dignity of his person, and freedom of movement since July 17, 2017 to date when he was arrested and thrown into custody without arraignment.
In the suit filed by lawyers from Femi Falana chambers, Mr. Mohammed, who left the service last year as an Assistant Director in the office of the Director General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, also asked the court for an order directing his immediate release from the detention facility of the SSS.
The plaintiff also prayed the court for an order compelling the SSS to render an unreserved public apology in the dailies for illegally detaining him and a perpetual order restraining the agency from further arresting him.
A report credited to an online newspaper, Premium Times, stated that Mohammed’s arrest and detention was allegedly tied to his friendship with the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, whose relationship with Mr. Daura has been sore.
According to document filed in court Mohammed who was arrested on July 17, 2017 by SSS had neither been released nor charged to court ever since. Even when the law stated that a suspect under arrest shall be brought before a competent court within 48 hours or granted an administrative bail.
But Mr. Mohammed has now spent weeks languishing in detention without arraignment, amidst concerns by his family that he might have lost one of his eyes after being brutalised by SSS operatives in custody.
His lawyers were only granted access to him for the first time last Tuesday and his daughter alleged that her father (Mohammed) had taken critically ill and should be released or charged to court in order for him to get adequate medical attention.
A relation of the plaintiff said that Mohammed had good working relation the Director General but suddenly the relationship with Mr. Daura deteriorated.
“The DSS DG accused him of holding grievances against the security agency, a claim that is clearly not true,” a relative of the applicant told an online medium adding that Mr. Daura and his client had been long time acquaintances.
“When SSS operatives searched Mohammed residences along the Airport Road in Abuja, and another one near Galadimawa neighbourhood, also in Abuja, nothing incriminating was found.
“They found nothing after all the searches they conducted,” the relative said. “Nothing implicating was found.” But, Mr. Mohammed was then taken to the SSS custody, where he was confined to a cell without adequate care, the relative said.
“They also accused him of being a front for Magu, saying his long-time relationship with the EFCC boss was suspicious,” the relative said.
The relative said Mr. Daura had always known that Mr. Mohammed was a friend of Mr. Magu, having both hailed from Borno and being friends for over a decade.
“The SSS officers just wanted him to implicate Magu with anything, even when they’ve never had any transactions together,” said the relative.
Some of the reliefs of the plaintiff are : A declaration that the detention of the applicant at Abuja by the first respondent in their detention facility since July 17, 2017 till date without being charged to court for a known offence is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the applicant’s fundamental rights to personal liberty, dignity of person and fair hearing as enshrined in section 34, 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Articles 5, 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
A declaration that the detention of the applicant at Abuja by the first respondent without access to his medical doctors, drugs, family and lawyers, since July 17, 2017 till date is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the applicant’s fundamental rights to health, freedom of association as enshrined in Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.An order of this honourable court directing the immediate and unconstitutional release of the applicant from custody of the first respondent forthwith.
The DSS has not file a respond to the claim and all efforts to reach it for comment were not successful as it has no spokesperson.
While a spokesperson for the AGF, Saliu Isa, did not respond to requests for comments.
The DSS is believed to be holding scores of Nigerians over an extended period of time without trial. The agency had declined to free a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, despite several court rulings that admitted him to bail.
Mr. Mohammed’s ordeal adds to the fallout of the worsening disaffection between Messrs. Daura and Magu. The duo had been locked in political and administrative rivalry since Mr. Buhari tapped them to head their respective agencies two years ago.
The DSS twice thwarted Mr. Magu’s confirmation by the Senate, accusing him of being reckless and corrupt. While Magu had also openly criticised the SSS, describing the secret police as an outfit without credibility when he appeared before the Senate for his last confirmation hearing.