A counsel to the Department of State Services (DSS), G. O. Agbadua, has given reasons why journalist Jones Abiri, was not given a trial for the two years he spent in detention.
Abiri was arrested by DSS in 2016 and accused of being the leader of the joint revolutionary council of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, a separatist group.
Abiri, the publisher of Weekly Source Newspaper, was arraigned for the first time after two years in July following public outcry. Abiri was granted bail in August.
Thereafter, the Bayelsa-based journalist asked the Abuja federal high court to compel the federal government to pay him N200 million as compensation for spending two years in detention.
Abiri said he was tortured by the DSS while in detention.
However, at the court on Monday, DSS lawyer explained that when a capital crime has been committed as in the alleged case of Abiri, a person can be held in detention without a trial.
“Section 30(3) of ACJA where a suspect is taken into custody and it appears to the police officer in charge of the station that the offence is of a capital nature, the arrested suspect shall be detained in custody, and the police officer may refer the matter to the attorney-general of the federation for legal advice and cause the suspect to be taken before a court having jurisdiction with respect to the offence within a reasonable time,” the counsel said.
“It is of individual right to national security and rule of law, the state itself was a result of individuals submitting their powers, their rights to the state for protection.
“Reading those provisions, we are of the view that since it’s individual right, it cannot supersede that of the national security and that bail in capital offence is not as of right.”
Apparently displeased with Agbadua’s statement, Samuel Ogala, counsel to Abiri, disagreed with the DSS lawyer.
Abiri’s counsel argued that his client’s detention was illegal and there is no court order to that effect.
“What is rule of law and national security? It is the duty and responsibility of the court to say yes, this case is a capital offence or whether an applicant is entitled to bail or not,” he said.
“It is not the responsibility of the state security service to sit in their office, arrest, detain and punish a person.
“The issue of rule of law and national security is very clear, what I want the court to understand is that the applicant’s detention is criminal intimidation and it is punishable.”
After listening to counsels, the presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, adjourned the matter till September 13.