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Alleged rights breach: Court dismisses Nnamdi Kanu’s N1bn suit

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, dismissed a N1 billion suit filed by Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), against the Federal Government and Department of State Services (DSS).

Justice James Omotosho, in a judgment, held that Kaanu failed to provide credible evidence to back the alleged violation of his fundamental rights by the defendants.

Justice Omotosho held that the claims that Kanu was denied unhindered access to his lawyers by the operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and that the officials eavesdropped on his conversations with his lawyers in the preparation for his defence, could not be established.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IPOB leader, through his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, had sued the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), DSS, and its DG as 1st to 4th respondents, respectively.

In the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1633/2023, dated and filed Dec. 4, 2023, the applicant prayed for eight reliefs.

He sought “a declaration that the respondents’ act of forcible seizure and photocopying of confidential legal documents pertaining to facilitating the preparation of his defence, which were brought to him at the respondents’ detention facility by his lawyers, amounted to denial of his rights to be defended by legal practitioners of his own choice.”

He also sought a declaration that the respondents’ act of preventing his counsel from taking notes on the details of counsel’s professional discussions/consultations with him at DSS detention was unlawful.

He further sought a declaration that the respondents’ act of eavesdropping on his confidential consultations/conversations with his lawyers amounted to denial of his right, among others.

Kanu, therefore, sought an order of injunction restraining and prohibiting the respondents from their act of forcible seizure and photocopying of confidential legal documents brought to him at the detention facility by his lawyers.

He also sought an order mandating the respondents to jointly and severally pay the sum of N1 billion as damages for the mental, emotional, psychological, and other damages he suffered as a result of his rights’ breach, among others.

But in a counter affidavit dated and filed by the DSS on March 12, the security outfit denied allegations levelled against it.

In the application deposed to by Yamuje Benye, a legal department staffer, he said 11 paragraphs in Kanu’s affidavit were untrue.

He averred that Kanu was in safe and secured custody of the DSS and that he was not detained in solitary confinement.

According to Benye, the applicant (Kanu) is allowed access to his family members and team of lawyers on his visiting days without any hindrance whatsoever.

He argued that the IPOB leader was permitted to interact and consult with his lawyers on his visiting days without any interference.

He said at no material time did any DSS personnel seize or confiscate documents brought to Kanu by his lawyers or any other person.

He added that their personnel never denied Kanu’s lawyers the professional liberty to perform their lawful duty of discussing, consulting, and interacting with him.

“Applicant’s counsel are allowed to moderate size notes or pads for the visit, but exchange of materials that promote the IPOB ideals (subject matter of applicant’s criminal trial) were strongly resisted and refused.

The applicant has consistently requested that various prayer books and religious materials be brought to him as part of his fundamental human right,” he said.

Benye averred that Justice Binta Nyako, who is presiding over Kanu’s criminal trial, has always maintained that visits to him should always be under supervision, as it is the best practice all over the world.

According to him, the applicant (Kanu), along with his counsel, were permitted to consult and interact on visiting days in one of the best interview facilities of the DSS to ensure maximum comfort of applicant and his visitor(s).

The official, who denied allegations that the personnel usually record their interaction during visits, said “there is no basis for eavesdropping and recording of their conversations.”

He said, in line with the Service Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) of the State Security Service, all visitors to her facility are subjected to normal routine security checks, and items in their possession scanned.

According to him, this is to avoid unauthorised materials making their way into the facility.

Benye said the instant suit was an abuse of court process. Kanu, having argued same issues before Justice Nyako, reserved the matter for judgement.

The FRN and the AGF, in a counter affidavit, also urged the court to dismiss the suit for being an abuse of court process. (NAN)

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