Hanan Buhari’s SIM Card Controversy: Court Awards N10m against DSS

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Sunday Ehigiator

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court in Asaba, Delta State Thursday awarded N10million in damages against the Department of State Services (DSS) for illegally detaining a trader, Mr. Anthony Okolie, for 10 weeks without charge.

The judge, however, absolved President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hanan Buhari and struck out the prayer requesting her, and MTN to pay N500million.

Okolie had dragged Hanan, DSS and MTN to court for his 10-week detention for using a SIM card, which was previously assigned to Hanan by the telecoms company.

In a suit filed on his behalf by human rights lawyer, Tope Akinyode, the applicant sued all parties for N500million jointly and separately.

The suit, with number FHC/ASB/CS/3/2020, sought an order to “compel the respondents (DSS, Hanan and MTN) jointly or severally to pay the applicant the sum of N500, 000, 000 only as general and aggravated damages for the gross and unlawful violation of the applicant’s right to acquire moveable properties, freedom of movement and self dignity.”

The 33-year-old man said in a supporting affidavit that he was arrested on July 19, 2019 in Asaba, Delta State for using a telephone line that was previously owned by Hanan.

According to him, he remained in custody, bound by handcuffs till September 22, 2019 as the DSS waited for Hanan, who was schooling in the United Kingdom, to come and clear him but she never did.

Okolie also attached the receipt he was issued after purchasing the SIM card as well as the SIM certificate.

During the hearing, Akinyode, who is also the National President of Revolutionary Lawyer’s Forum, asked Justice Dimgba to determine if Okolie’s rights had been breached and if the DSS had the right to detain a private citizen for 10 weeks without charge.

The President’s daughter, through her lawyer, M.E Sheriff, asked the court not to grant Okolie’s reliefs, insisting that she had never met the applicant before and he should instead channel his anger towards the DSS that detained him.

The DSS in a counter-affidavit said the Presidency ordered the investigation of Okolie, adding that the sensitivity of the case was what led to Okolie’s prolonged detention.

The DSS lawyer E.E Daubry, who is the Principal Staff Officer, Legal Services, DSS, said the agency decided to detain Okolie without a court order because of the sensitivity of the case.

The agency accused Okolie of using Hanan’s SIM card to solicit money from unsuspecting members of the public, an allegation the applicant denied.