A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to pay N5 million in damages for the illegal arrest and detention of Sanusi Shuaib, an Abuja-based commercial driver.
Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon declared the driver’s detention since January 16, 2023, without trial, as a flagrant violation of Section 35 of the Nigerian Constitution, which limits the detention period without court authorization to a maximum of 48 hours.
The court’s judgment emphasized that the DSS had overstepped its bounds by detaining Shuaib beyond the 20-day period granted by the Federal High Court on March 29 last year for investigation purposes.
With no subsequent application for an extension of detention nor charges filed against Shuaib, the judge ruled that any detention beyond the initial 20 days was unlawful, unconstitutional, and void.
Shuaib, through his lawyer Bala Dakum, had approached the court to challenge his prolonged detention without trial, alleging that the DSS arrested him on charges of possessing firearms intended for terrorists.
He sought not only his release but also N50 million in compensation for violating his rights.
Justice Olajuwon acknowledged that Shuaib’s fundamental rights to freedom of movement were infringed upon and dismissed the DSS’s defense that it had been granted six months to detain the driver, clarifying that only a 20-day detention had been authorized.
The court also refuted claims of Shuaib’s transfer to a military detention facility for trial on terrorism offenses, citing a lack of evidence, and criticized the DSS for not conducting a fresh investigation as recommended by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
The Judge, therefore, nullified the continued detention of the driver and ordered his immediate release from the DSS custody in Abuja.
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