Tuesday, December 2, 2014 8:47 am
A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the release of five employees of the All Progressives Congress (APC), detained by the Department of Security Service (DSS).
The employees: Chinedu Atuche, Fayemi Olaposi, Augustine Onuchukwu, Ebun Ilori, and Esther Enemy, were arrested on Nov. 22.
The officials of DSS, accompanied by the police, had raided a building which houses the APC’s data office on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos. The DSS said the raid was informed by intelligence report that some unwholesome activities were being perpetrated within the said building.
Justice Mohammed Yunusa ordered their release on Monday while ruling on a suit filed by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) on behalf of the applicants, seeking enforcement of their fundamental rights.
Also joined in the suit is the Nigeria Police Force.
Yunusa held that a citizen could not be detained beyond 48 hours without being charged to court.
According to him, if there is any need to extend the detention period, the law enforcement agency is required to file an application before a court for a review.
He, therefore, held that the detention of the applicants for over a week without being charged to court was unjustifiable.
“The arrest and detention of a person for the purpose of obtaining information is clearly a violation of Section 35 of the Constitution. It is clear that there is a contravention of the provisions of Section 35, since the applicants were not properly brought before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“The remand order, whether valid or invalid, has exceeded the time limit permitted as reasonable by Section 35 of the Constitution.
“The same arrest and detention of the applicant is illegal and they are hereby released”, Yunusa held.
The judge also made an order restraining the DSS from further arresting the applicants, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
He also ordered the applicants not to travel outside the court’s jurisdiction without approval.
He adjourned the case to January 19, 2015 for hearing.
Earlier, counsel to the DSS, Mr Clifford Osagie, said the agency was unable to produce the applicants at the last adjourned date because it received the court’s order late.
He said that the Director General of the DSS was only notified of the order on Friday, and had immediately directed compliance, adding that they had also filed their processes before the court.
Responding, Osinbajo, told the court that he only received the processes of the respondent on Monday morning.
He said the continued detention of the applicants was a flagrant abuse of their freedom, and should not be allowed to continue.
Justice Yunusa had on Nov. 26, granted an interim order, directing the DSS to unseal the APC’s data office.
The judge had also ordered the respondent to release the detained workers and produce them in court on Nov. 28, when the case would have been heard.
However, the respondent failed to produce the detainees in court on 28 November.