Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti
The Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti Division, wednesday declared the arrest and detention of a member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Afolabi Akanni for 18 days by Department of Sate Services (DSS) for undisclosed reasons as illegal and flagrant violation of the 1999 constitution.
To this end, the court ordered the DSS to pay a fine of N5 million to the lawmaker for what it described as: “illegal arrest and continued detention for 18 harrowing, excruciating and brain cudgelling days, without access to his lawyers and family.”
Akanni, representing Efon constituency, was on March 4, 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 the lawmaker should be brought before the court to face trial instead.
Delivering his judgement, 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.”
It added further: “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 was 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 hospital outside the state receiving treatment.
Responding to the judgment, Akanni’s counsel, Adewale, described it as a courageous demonstration of the willingness and readiness of the judiciary to protect the sanctity of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of the citizens of this country.
“This is not about 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 trample relentlessly on the rights of the citizens of this country under various guises.”