The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti has declared the arrest and detention of member representing Efon Constituency1 in the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Afolabi Akanni, by the Department of State Services, DSS, as illegal.
Consequently, the Court ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to compensate Akanni with a sum of N5 million. Akanni was on March 4 arrested in an alleged invasion of the Ekiti State House of Assembly complex by operatives of the DSS.
He was held at the DSS headquarters in Abuja for 18 days in defiance of the federal high court, Ado Ekiti’s order for his release on March 8. Counsel to Akanni, Barrister Obafemi Adewale, who appeared for him in court, yesterday, alongside other members of his legal team, apologised for his absence and told the judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, that he (Akanni) was recuperating from the post-traumatic treatment at an undisclosed hospital outside the state.
In his judgement, 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 detaining him for 18 days.
Responding to the judgement, Akanni’s counsel, Mr Obafemi 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.
He said “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 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.”
Also, Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt Honourable Kola Oluwawole, said the verdict 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.
He said “The judgement is a vindication of our that what 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 juggling has shown that the DSS’ action was illegal.”