Invasion of Ekiti House of Assembly: Court orders payment of N5m compensation

..Slams DSS over invasion, arrest of lawmaker

The Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti Division, has ordered the Directorate of State Security Services (DSS) to compensate Honourable Afolabi Akanni, member representing Efon Constituency 1 at the Ekiti State House of Assembly, with a sum of N5 million for what it called: “illegal arrest and continued detention for 18 harrowing, excruciating and brain cudgelling days, ‎without access to his lawyers and family.”

Akanni was on March 4 whisked away during an alleged invasion of the
Ekiti State House of Assembly complex by men of the DSS.

He was held at the DSS headquarters in Abuja for 18 days without
access to his lawyers and family, in spite of the Federal High court,
Ado Ekiti order for his release on March 8.

After a dramatic announcement of his alleged death by the Ekiti state
government, the DSS had brought Akanni to the public, alleging that he was being held for alleged breaches to some security regulations. The Ekiti lawmaker was eventually released after 18 days of his incarceration.

Counsel to Akanni, Barrister Obafemi Adewale, who appeared for him in
Court today alongside other members of his legal team, apologised for
his physical absence and explained to the presiding judge, Justice
Taiwo Taiwo, that he (Akanni) was still in a hospital outside the
state receiving post-traumatic treatment.

While giving his judgment, Justice Taiwo noted that the Respondent,
DSS, had all along failed to either deny or defend the position, facts
and allegations of the applicant, adding that in the eyes of the law:
“There is no basis for the court to believe that all that the
applicant had alleged against the DSS were not true” and that Akanni’s
fundamental rights as a citizen of Nigeria, as specified by the
principles of the Rule of Law and the African Charter on the Rights of
individuals, had been violated by the DSS in illegally arresting and
continually detaining him for 18 days.

The court also granted three out of the four reliefs sought by the
applicant’s counsel.

The three reliefs granted according to the Justice Taiwo include:
“whether the applicant’s unlawful arrest and detention is justified ,
whether the said intimidation, torture and continued detention is not a violation of his fundamental human rights and a violation of the
Rule of Law, and whether the applicant’s is not entitled to damages.

Responding to the judgment, Akanni’s counsel, Barrister Adewale
described it as a courageous demonstration of the willingness and
readiness of the judiciary to protect the sanctity of the
constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of the citizens of this
country, adding that: “This is not about Afolabi Akanni, it is not
about the Ekiti State House of Assembly, and it is not about Governor
Fayose. It is about the ordinary man on the streets who has this right
but who is now facing an apparent trend all over the federation of a
gradual return to the days of impunity when
security agencies trudge relentlessly on the rights of the citizens of
this country under various guises.

The people working in security have their limits as specified by the
Laws that created them but most of them operate as if they are above
the law. What the court has done today is to again re-emphasize that
we have a constitution in Nigeria which is supreme to every other
organs of government and which guides every of our conduct including
the President of the country.
“It is not even about the N5 million awarded for damages and the court
has stated that when you do what the DSS has done to Akanni, the fine
must be paid. Within the parameters of the law, we will ensure that
the money is paid by the Respondent.”

Also, Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon. Kola
Oluwawole, said the judgment has vindicated the House’s position that
DSS’ alleged invasion, arrest and detention of its members were
illegal and against the democratic principles of the country.

His words: “The judgment is a vindication of our position that the
DSS’ invasion of the state House on March 4 was an aberration. We
cried to the world over this. The opponents were giving excuses and
the DSS were not even helping the matter, but the judgment has shown
that the DSS’ action was illegal and this will serve as deterrent to
the Service and other security agencies.”

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