Unlawful detention: Ex- Gov  Suswam slams N10bn suit against DSS, AGF

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Former Governor of Benue state, Rt. Hon Gabriel Suswam has instituted a legal action at the Federal High Court Abuja, against the Department of State Service (DSS), it’s Director General and the Attorney General of the Federation for illegally detaining him for over 35 days without charging him to court.

In a fundamental right enforcement suit filed yesterday on his behalf by Joseph Daudu SAN, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/279/2017, Suswam is asking the court to order for payment of exemplary damages in the sum of N10billion for his unlawful arrest and detention since February 25, 2017 without trial.

By the suit, the applicant wants, “A declaration that the arrest and detention of the applicant (Suswam) on Saturday 25th February 2017, till the date at Abuja by the operatives of the DSS under the instruction of their DG without trial or due process being followed violates the applicant’s fundamental right to personal liberty guaranteed by Section 35(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) and Article 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, and is therefore unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void.

Among other reliefs, the plaintiff is seeking, “A declaration that the continued detention of Suswam by operatives of the DSS under the instruction and direction of the DG since Saturday the 25th of February, 2017 till date, without trial or due process violates his fundamental rights to freedom of movement as guaranteed in Section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and is therefore unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void.

An order directing the respondents particularly the 1st and 2nd respondents to release the applicant forthwith or produce him forthwith to this court for purposes of his being released. 

An order of injunction  restraining the respondents particularly the DSS whether by themselves or by their servants, officers, agents or privies or otherwise howsoever described from administering any form of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment Suswam and if proven to have been administered, to nullify any statements, documents or other materials that may have been extracted or obtained from the applicant under such “unwholesome and constitutionally prohibited circumstances”. 

More so, Suswam is praying for an order compelling the respondents to forthwith release him  unconditionally from unlawful detention pending (if any) the commencement and final determination of a trial for any offence or offences with which the respondents or the Federal Government of Nigeria may charge or wish to charge him. 

Suswam predicated the suit on the grounds that on the 25th of February, 2017, he was arrested and detained by the DSS in respect of a purported allegation that he is in possession of fire arms. 

He stated that since his arrest, he has been in custody of the DSS without being charged to court. 

In addition, he is contending that his continued detention has seriously affected his health which is deteriorating on a daily basis due to lack of access to medical care. 

“That the period of his arrest and detention without bail offends the provision of Section 35 (5) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. 

“That the DSS is required by law to charge him to court within a reasonable time before a competent court of law. 

More so, Suswam posited that no specific allegation of a crime or an offence has been levelled against him, adding that he has not been confronted with the allegations by his accuser(s) if any, since detention. 

No date has been fixed for the matter.

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