Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja on behalf of a journalist, Jones Abiri.
Abiri has been held in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) for about two years without charge.
The suit wants an order directing the DSS to pay to the journalist the sum of N200m in damages for the illegal violation of his fundamental rights and “an order directing the immediate release of the applicant (Abiri) from the custody of the respondent (DSS) forthwith.”
The suit prayed for a declaration that the detention of the journalist in Abuja without access to his family members, friends and medical doctors since his arrest on July 21, 2016 “is illegal and unconstitutional”.
Falana argued that the detention “violates the applicant’s fundamental rights” including his rights to personal liberty, dignity of person, fair hearing, health and association, as well as freedom of association.
He also contended that Abiri’s rights, violated by the DSS, were guaranteed by sections 34, 35 and 40 of the Constitution as well as Articles 11 and 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
A litigation clerk in Falana’s law firm, Mr. Paul Ochayi, said in an affidavit filed in support of the suit that Abiri was arrested without a warrant by “the armed agents” of the DSS in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on July 21, 2016.
The matter has yet to be assigned to a judge.
The presidency recently stated that the detainee was not a journalist but an individual who was involved in militant activities.