The Federal High Court today ordered the State Security Service (SSS) to apologise to Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, and to pay him N2 million in damages for unlawfully detaining him last November during the Anambra gubernatorial election.

The court also pronounced that neither the SSS nor the Attorney-General of the Federation, who was joined in the suit, had any legal authority to restrict El-Rufai’sright of movement as enshrined in Section 34 of the constitution, a ruling that has massive implications for future elections in the country.

The events took place on 15 and 16 November 2013, when SSS officials detained and harassed the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory at the Finotel, Awka.

Nasir El-RufaiNasir El-Rufai Outraged at that treatment, El-Rufai sought legal redress, with the SSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation listed as respondents in the suit.

Delivering judgment in Awka today, Justice Ibrahim Bature Gafai held that the SSS had no statutory powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or under any Nigerian law to have detained 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.

The court also declared that the detention of El-Rufaiwithout charge violated the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association guaranteed under Section 40 of the Constitution, as amended, as well as 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.

The court also granted other concessions sought by 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 FinotelHotel, 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.

iiii. 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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