Activist Chido Onumah sues SSS, wants N150 million

A Nigerian activist, Chido Onumah. [PHOTO CREDIT: Sahara Reporters]
A Nigerian activist, Chido Onumah. [PHOTO CREDIT: Sahara Reporters]

A Nigerian activist, Chido Onumah, has filed an N150 million suit against the State Security Service over his arrest and detention on September 29.

Mr Onumah is asking the court to compel the agency to issue a public apology to him for the arrest and prosecute the officers involved in his arrest.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Onumah was arrested at the airport upon his arrival from Europe on September 29.

He was arrested at about 5:00 p.m. that day and released about five hours later.

“I was arrested for wearing the T-shirt because the SSS said it is capable of causing disaffection in the country.

“They said some people had issues and had contacted them (SSS) whether I was a part of a group that was planning against the country,” he said.

The inscription on Mr Onumah’s shirt, We Are All Biafrans, is the title of a book he wrote about Nigeria.

The book, a collection of essays by the journalist, focused on the need to restructure Nigeria in order to be able to build a united country.

The activist in his suit wants the court to make among others, a declaration that his arrest was a violation of his human rights and freedom of expression as provided in Sections 34, 35, and 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“A declaration that the unlawful seizure of the Applicant’s T-Shirt and coercion to write an undertaking never to wear the said T-Shirt again by Officials and/or Agents of the Respondents amounts to a violation of his right to own property and his right to Freedom of Expression as contained in Section 39 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“A declaration that the mental and physical trauma which the Applicant had to endure during the period of time he was held in detention by Officials and/or Agents of the Respondents constitutes a violation of his right to dignity of his person as provided in Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”

Mr Onumah wants the court to make an order among others, compelling the state security to carry out a thorough and in-depth investigation and prosecution of all its officers responsible for his unlawful arrest and violation of his fundamental rights.

“An order of mandamus compelling the first respondent to carry out a thorough and in-depth investigation and prosecution of all its Officers and/or agents directly and remotely responsible for the Applicant’s unlawful arrest and violation of his fundamental rights.

“A written unreserved apology from the Respondents to the Applicant to be published in two National Dailies for the harassment and unwarranted mental and physical trauma meted on the Applicant while in custody of the Respondents.

“Compensatory damages in the sum of N100 million, to the applicant for the violation of his fundamental human rights.

“Exemplary damages in the sum of N50 million to the Applicant for setback, trauma, psychological and emotional distress experienced and still being experienced.

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