Unlawful detention: Court orders SSS to apologise to El-Rufai, pay him N2m in damages

The Federal High Court on Monday ordered the State Security Service to apologise to a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, and to pay him N2 million in damages for unlawful detention.

This follows the events of November 15 and 16 2013, during the last Anambra governorship elections, when SSS officials detained and harassed Mr. El-Rufai at the Finotel in Awka.

Dissatisfied with his treatment, and believing that the conduct of the SSS had no basis in law, Mr. El-Rufai approached the court for redress.

The case was listed as FHC/AWK/CS/310/13, with the SSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation as respondents.

Delivering judgment in Awka on Monday, Justice Ibrahim Bature Gafai held that the SSS has no statutory powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 or under any Nigerian law to detain Mr. El-Rufai without showing cause to a court of competent jurisdiction.

The court therefore ordered the SSS to publish an apology in two national dailies for the unlawful and unconstitutional violation of his liberty.

In addition to the apology and monetary damages, the court also made significant pronouncements regarding the restriction of movement during elections.

The court declared that the Respondents have no powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 or under any Nigerian law to either impose a general restriction on movement or restrict the applicant’s constitutional right of freedom of movement as enshrined in Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 on account of the Anambra State Gubernatorial election that took place on the 16th day of November, 2013 or any other election.

This decision has massive implications for the way government agencies routinely attempt to restrict movement of persons, especially during elections.

The court also granted other prayers sought by Mr. El-Rufai, including:

i. A DECLARATION that the detention of the Applicant, Mallam Nasir El-rufai, OFR, without charge, at the premises of Finotel Hotel, Akwa, Anambra State, between the 15th day of November, 2013 and 16th day of November, 2013, by agents of the 1st Respondent, (SSS) or officers, servants, privies of the Respondents and/or of the Federal Government of Nigeria, constitute a gross violation of the Applicant right to personal liberty and freedom of movement respectively guaranteed under sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Articles 6 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and is therefore unconstitutional and illegal.

ii. A DECLARATION that the unlawful deprivation of the Applicant, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, OFR, from granting/continued granting of interview with an AIT Correspondence, Mr. Obiorah Iloh and other mass media representatives within the premises of Finotel Hotel, Akwa, Anambra State, at about 2pm of 16th day of November, 2013 by agents of the 1st Respondent, (SSS) or officers, servants, privies of the Respondents and/or of the Federal Government of Nigeria, constitute a gross violation of the Applicant’s freedom of expression guaranteed under section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Article 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and is accordingly unlawful unconstitutional and illegal.

iii. A DECLARATION that the detention of the Applicant at the premises of Finotel Hotel, Akwa, Anambra State, without charge, on the 15th day of November, 2013 to the 16th day of November, 2013, by agents of the 1st Respondent, (SSS) or officers, servants, agents, privies of the Respondents and/or of the Federal Government of Nigeria with a view to denying the Applicant, Deputy National Secretary and Member/Secretary Electoral Committee, of All Progressives Congress Anambra Governorship Election, 2013, freedom to associates with fellow members of the said All Progressives Congress, at Akwa, Anambra State, is a violation of the Applicant’s Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association guaranteed under section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Articles 10(1) and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and is accordingly unconstitutional and illegal.

iv. A DECLARATION that the restriction and prevention of the Applicant from moving out of his room in Finotel Hotel wherein he lodged at Awka in Anambra State to monitor the 16th November, 2013 Anambra State Gubernatorial Election by the Agents of the Respondents, Officers, Servants, Agents or Privies constitutes a gross violation of the Applicant’s constitutional right of freedom of movement as enshrined in section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).

v. A DECLARATION that the restriction and prevention of the Applicant from moving out of his room in Finotel Hotel wherein he lodged at Awka in Anambra State to observe congregation prayers (salat) on the 16th November, 2013 by the Agents of the Respondents, Officers, Servants, Agents or Privies constitutes a gross violation of the Applicant’s constitutional right of freedom of Religion as enshrined in section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).

vi. A DECLARATION that the Respondents have no powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) or under any Nigerian Law to either impose a general restriction on movement or restrict the Applicant’s constitutional right of freedom of movement as enshrined in Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) on account of the Anambra State Gubernatorial election that took place on the 16th day of November, 2013 or any other election.

vii. A DECLARATION that the 1st Respondent has no statutory powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) or under any Nigerian Law to detain the Applicant without showing cause to a Court of competent jurisdiction.

viii. AN INJUNCTION restraining the Respondents, whether by themselves or by their officers, agents, servants, privies, or otherwise howsoever from further detaining or in any other manner infringing on the fundamental rights of the Applicant.

ix. AN ORDER for the award of compensation/damages to the Applicant, in the sum of N2,000,000.00 (Two Million Naira only) for the unlawful and unconstitutional detention/violation of his right to personal liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of association and expression.

x. AN ORDER directing the Respondents to publish apologies to the Applicant in two (2) National Dailies, for the unlawful and unconstitutional detention/violation of his right to personal liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of association and expression guaranteed under the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Articles 6, 9(2), 10(1), 11 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.


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  • Hah!

    Chai! we awaits to see if and only if the SSS will abide with the court ruling.

  • Nwa Aba #Lets Break Up Now

    Justice Ibrahim Bature Gafai
    hausa/fulani people have long way to go

    • Jika

      You may disagree with the judge on points of law but,I don’t think there is anything that smacks of ethnic bias here.If you feel the judgement is tainted with some ethnic leanings,you may as well point it out.That is what is expected of you as a ‘learned’ or ‘enlightened’ person instead of resorting to ethnic bigotry.God bless.

    • Maria

      Moron… ethnic jingoist. You will soon be at the receiving end…efulefu.

    • TRUTH MASTER

      Bigoted Man! When you goad the north and trouble starts, you ‘ll start running helter skelter!

    • Bright maduagwuna

      Please you should use decent words in this column. You may claim to be Ibo, but no educated Ibo man will front this type of idea in a column like this. El Rufai is fighting the cause of every Nigeria whether Ibo Yoruba and Hausa. He is among the well respect men of conscience in Nigeria. I am from Bayelsa State and I see him as one of the advocates of the masses.

      • Hah!

        Indeed. Mr. Bright. you really answer your name.

    • Wähala

      Made-in-Aba Brain… no wonder you’re still stock in 1967 mentality. He-Goat!

      • SaytheTruth

        True to type. I have carefully followed your contributions and line of thought. It appears you are not satisfied until you have abused people with dissenting opinion. How refined are you. Of course your name says volume about your person. A man or woman that choses to bear wahala must be from some asylum.

        • Wähala

          If truly you’ve followed my contributions, it’s bcos my comments almost, always top the pack by being voted “Best” so you have no choice but to notice them… per abusive language, I give what I get and use harsh lingua to fend off miscreants like you. Yes! you’re right, it’s folly to attack a guy with the only name whose meaning is understood by all Africans, not just Nigerians… the only man who “lives up to” his name online. It was “strategic thinking” and a conscious choice of name. I’m from the same orphanage your hooker mama left you to run after Aboki bootlegs… baztard!

  • Dankasa

    Nwa Aba#Lets breakup you called yourself or whatever, You people are not yet ready for the break up otherwise you should have by now started packing out of our northern region but don’t worry we will force to break away and that will be final no coming back una!

  • TRUTH MASTER

    Shameless SSS. They are now the enforcement arm of the PDP. Now they have been put to shame! Thank you Justice Gafai

  • Nwokolo

    Congrats Mallam El Rufai. You are indeed a ”fighter”. Fwd to Kashim Ibrahim House.

  • Bright maduagwuna

    Please you should use decent words in this column. You may claim to be
    Ibo, but no educated Ibo man will front this type of idea in a column
    like this. El Rufai is fighting the cause of every Nigerian whether Ibo,
    Yoruba or Hausa. He is among the well respected men of conscience in
    Nigeria. I am from Bayelsa State and I see him as one of the advocates
    of the masses.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    This type of court judgement will serve as a deterent mark of reference to president Ebele Jonathan’s PDP arm-SSS as security agencies now act as PDP and president Ebele Jonathan branches.Example is the PDP Ayodele Fayose beaten up of an Ekiti high court judge and causing of havoc in the court and molesting of lawyers.Nigerian SSS and police looked on while Fayose thugs beat up the judge and molest the lawyers and refused to arrest them and bring them to justice till now.

  • GoodCitizen

    How much did the judiciary punished that man that stole billions of pension funds. 2 million naira and newspapers apology for restricting a man reasonably believed to be a security threat and may constitute a breach of the same? Different strokes for different folks. Nigerian judiciary keep making a mockery of itself.

    • Mohstone

      BadCitizen indeed. Go hug a transformer