I Will Jail You In Absentia, Court Warns DSS Operatives

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An Anambra State High Court presided over by Justice R.O Onunkwo on Thursday gave four officials of the Department of State Services in the state who were involved in a battery matter two months to appear before it or risk being sentenced in absentia.

The court order was coming following repeated absence of the DSS operatives in court on the issue.

Onunkwo said after the two-month grace, the security operatives would lose their rights of defence, adding that he would be left with no other option but to enter judgement in default against them.

The DSS officials had in April 2015 allegedly brutalised a businessman in the state, Chief Ifeanyichukwu Nwokoye, and his wife, Jessie.

The court therefore ordered hearing notice on the DSS personnel for March 15, April 5th and 20th, as well as May 17th, 19th , 24th and 26th.

Justice Onukwe, said on the March 15 hearing, the DSS would be expected to cross examine the witness who gave his evidence-in-chief on the March 10 sitting.

The court had on 7 March summoned the DSS to appear before it on March 10, which the security outfit did not honour.

When the matter came up on Monday March 7, the counsel to the DSS, Mr. S.T. Oneh, had announced his discontinuance with the matter.

He said, “I used to appear for the respondents (DSS) in this matter. But the respondents have disengaged my professional service. I hereby notify the court that I no longer represent them.”

Oneh, who tendered a letter disengaging his services by the DSS to the court, argued that he would not want to force himself on his former clients.

But in the resumed hearing on Thursday, the DSS did not put up any appearance, a situation that caused the judge to give a leave of the court to the applicant’s lawyer, Prof Ilochi Okafor, SAN, to proceed with his motion to continue with the case in the absence of DSS.

Nwokoye and his wife were allegedly brutalised by the men of the DSS in the state where Nwokoye’s sight was affected.

Nwokoye, who narrated his ordeal in the hands of the DSS operatives, said, “I was handcuffed with my wife like common criminals.

“I have never seen such a thing all my life. The retina of my eyes has been damaged. I was humiliated for no offence committed.”

He alleged that he was brutalised because he refused to release information about 22 expatriate medical doctors invited by the Anambra State Government for free medical mission in the state, who were accommodated in his hotel.

It will be recalled that Nwokoye had dragged the DSS to court for allegedly infringing on his fundamental rights.

 CREDIT: PUNCH