By Chika Otuchikere
A Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered the Department of State Service (DSS) to pay N10.5 million to journalist, Jones Abiri, as compensation for illegally detaining him for two years.
The court described the prolonged detention of Abiri without trial as outright conviction and ordered the Federal Government to pay him N10.5 million as damages.
The Bayelsa State based journalists was arrested in August 2016 and detained for two years in a DSS detention facility. It took the outcry of the media, the public and his lawyers, led by human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, who filed a fundamental right enforcement suit against the government before the DSS released him.
Hei was arraigned at a magistrate court in Abuja on a count of militancy which could not be proven.
In his ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, said that the government had no right to detain Abiri after taking his statement in 2016.
Dimgba said that the DSS did not deny arresting and detaining him since July 2016, as well as denying him access to his doctors, family and friends.
The judge said that having taken Abiri’s statement, the applicant should have been arraigned in court
Justice Dimgba said that the government’s submission that Abiri was detained in the interest of national security was baseless.
According to him, the government should had filled the suit against the defendant and asked the court to refuse him bail, so that the court will use its discretion in determining whether Abiri should be granted bail on not
He therefore declared Abiri’s detention illegal and an abuse of his fundamental rights and ruled that the DSS acted outside the provisions of the law regarding the Terrorism Prevention Act, and therefore, ordered the agency to pay him N10.5million compensation.
Before his detention, Abiri, published the Weekly Source Magazine. He was arrested in his office in Yenagoa, the state capital, for alleged link to armed militancy in the Niger Delta region, an allegation he denied.