A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, ordered the Department of State Security (DSS) to release five detained staffs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) arrested on November 22 by operatives of the security outfit.
The detained APC staff include Chinedu Atuche, Fayemi Olaposi, Augustine Onuchukwu, Ebun Ilori, and Esther Enemy.
Officers of the DSS, accompanied by the police, had raided a building which houses the APC’s data office, saying it acted on petitions alleging unwholesome activities at the location.
The court ordered their release in its ruling in a fundamental rights suit by the applicants, seeking enforcement of their fundamental rights. Respondents in the suit were the Police and the DSS.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed Yunusa held that a citizen could not be detained for more than 48 hours without being charged to court.
According to him, if there was any need to extend the period, the law enforcement agency shall be required to file an application for a review of the period before a court of law. Since the DSS had failed to do that, the detention of the applicants for more than 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 clear 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 the Section 35 of the Constitution. The same arrest and detention of the applicant is illegal and they are hereby released,” Justice Yunusa said.
He restrained the DSS from further arresting the applicants, pending the determination of the substantive suit. He adjourned further hearing in the matter till January 19, 2015, after ordering the applicants not to travel outside the court’s jurisdiction without approval until the court sits again.