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Federal High Court Orders DSS to Pay Abuja Driver N5 Million for Unlawful Detention

In a landmark ruling, the Federal High Court in Abuja has delivered a significant blow to the Department of State Services (DSS) by imposing a hefty fine of N5 million for the unlawful arrest and detention of Sanusi Shuaib, an Abuja-based commercial driver. The court has also ordered the immediate release of Shuaib, who has been held in detention without trial since January 16, 2023.

The judgment, delivered by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, represents a resounding victory for the rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights. Justice Olajuwon emphasized that the DSS blatantly violated Section 35 of the Nigerian Constitution, which expressly prohibits the detention of any Nigerian beyond 48 hours without a court order.

The court’s decision stems from the DSS’s failure to adhere to a previous order by the Federal High Court, which had authorized a 20-day detention period for the purpose of investigation and potential criminal charges. However, the DSS neglected to seek an extension of this period or bring any charges against Shuaib, rendering his continued detention unlawful, illegal, and unconstitutional.

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Shuaib, represented by his legal counsel, Bala Dakum, courageously challenged the DSS in court, seeking both his release and a substantial N50 million compensation for the unjust detention he endured. Justice Olajuwon, in a powerful affirmation of the sanctity of individual liberties, concurred that Shuaib’s fundamental right to freedom of movement had been flagrantly violated by the DSS.

The court unequivocally rejected the DSS’s assertion that it had been granted a six-month detention period, clarifying that the original court order had only sanctioned a 20-day period for investigation and potential prosecution. Furthermore, Justice Olajuwon dismissed the DSS’s claim that Shuaib had been transferred to a military detention facility in Gwa gwa, Niger State, for trial on terrorism charges, citing a lack of evidence to support this assertion.

Additionally, the court refuted the security agency’s claim that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had authorized the trial of Shuaib. Justice Olajuwon highlighted that the Attorney General’s office had merely recommended a fresh investigation into the allegations against Shuaib, which was never carried out.

In a resolute and definitive stance, Justice Olajuwon nullified the continued detention of Shuaib and issued a compelling order for his immediate release from the DSS custody in Abuja. This ruling stands as a powerful affirmation of the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding the rights of all individuals.

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The court’s decision serves as a potent reminder of the crucial role played by an independent judiciary in protecting citizens from arbitrary and unlawful actions by state authorities. It underscores the vital importance of upholding constitutional principles and ensuring that no individual is unjustly deprived of their liberty.

This ruling is a significant victory for the protection of human rights in Nigeria and sends a clear message that arbitrary detention and disregard for due process will not be tolerated. It serves as a beacon of hope for all citizens, reaffirming their right to freedom and justice in the face of overreach by state institutions.

In light of this momentous judgment, it is imperative that all state agencies, including the DSS, adhere strictly to the provisions of the law and respect the fundamental rights of all individuals. The ruling stands as a testament to the resilience of the legal system in upholding justice and ensuring accountability for unlawful actions.

As the nation reflects on this landmark ruling, it is a timely reminder of the enduring importance of upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of every citizen. The judiciary’s unwavering commitment to justice and the protection of fundamental rights serves as a cornerstone of a just and democratic society.

This ruling sets a powerful precedent for the protection of individual liberties and sends a clear message that no individual is above the law. It stands as a testament to the judiciary’s pivotal role in safeguarding the rights of all citizens and holding state institutions accountable for their actions.

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In conclusion, the Federal High Court’s decision to order the DSS to pay N5 million to Sanusi Shuaib and release him from unlawful detention represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all individuals. It serves as a powerful reaffirmation of the judiciary’s commitment to justice and accountability, and a resounding victory for the protection of fundamental human rights.

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