Home Court Court waives Nnamdi Kanu’s N1bn suit against FG

Court waives Nnamdi Kanu’s N1bn suit against FG

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Justice James Omotosho, of a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, dismissed the Fundamental Human rights suit filed by the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu against the Federal Government.

Kanu, in the suit, is seeking N1 billion in damages from the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Department of State Services, for alleged right violation.

Kanu, in the suit, marked: FHC/CS/1633/2023, claimed that the DSS and its Director-General violated his right to a fair hearing by allegedly preventing his lawyers from having unhindered interactions with him where he is being detained, in preparation for his defence in his criminal trial.

Omotosho, while delivering a judgment on the suit, held that Kanu failed to provide credible evidence to sustain his claims that his interactions with his lawyers were interfered with, that he was denied unhindered access to his lawyers and that DSS officials eavesdropped on his conversations with his lawyers, which constituted a breach of his right to a fair hearing.

Omotosho further held that the applicant failed to prove that his lawyers were stopped from taking notes at meetings held with him during visitation, and further held that there was no evidence before him showing that he was denied a fair hearing as claimed in his suit.

On this note, the judge dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.

Kanu, through his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, in an originating motion dated and filed December 4, 2023, sued the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the AGF, the DSS, and its DG, as 1st to 4th respondents respectively.

Kanu, in the suit, demanded the enforcement of his fundamental rights while in detention at the DSS.

The suit was filed under Order II, Rules 1 & 2 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, among others.

In the motion, Kanu prayed for “a declaration that the respondents’ act of forcible seizure and photocopying of confidential legal documents about facilitating the preparation of his defence which were brought to him at the respondents’ detention facility by his lawyers, amounted to a denial of his rights to be defended by legal practitioners of his own choice”.

He also sought a declaration that the respondents’ act of refusing or preventing his counsel from taking notes of details of the counsel’s professional discussions/consultations with him at DSS detention is unlawful and amounts to a denial of his right to be given adequate facilities for the preparation of his defence by legal practitioners of his own choice.

He further sought a declaration that the respondents’ act of eavesdropping on his confidential consultations or conversations with his lawyers amounted to denial of his right, among others.

Kanu, on this note, sought an order of injunction restraining and prohibiting the respondents from their act of forcible seizure and photocopying of confidential legal documents brought to him at the detention facility by his lawyers.

He also sought an order mandating the respondents to jointly and severally pay the sum of N1bn as damages for the mental, emotional, psychological and other damages he suffered as a result of his rights’ breach, among others.

The FRN and the AGF, in a counter affidavit, urged the court to dismiss the suit for being an abuse of court process.

The DSS, in a counter affidavit dated and filed March 12, 2024, denied the allegations levelled against it by Kanu.

In the application deposed to by staff in the service’s legal department, Yamuje Benye argued that 11 paragraphs in Kanu’s affidavit were untrue.

The deponent averred that Kanu was in safe and secured custody of the DSS and that he was not detained in solitary confinement.

According to him, Kanu, alongside his counsel, was permitted to consult and interact on visiting days in one of the best interview facilities of the DSS to ensure maximum comfort of the applicant and his visitor(s).

He argued that there is no basis for eavesdropping and recording of Kanu’s conversations.

He said, in line with the Service Standard Operation Procedure of the State Security Service, all visitors to her facility are subjected to normal routine security checks and items in their possession are scanned.

According to him, this is to avoid unauthorised materials making their way into the facility.

Benye said the instant suit was an abuse of the court process, adding that Kanu, had previously argued the same issues before Justice Nyako.

He added that Justice Nyako, who is presiding over Kanu’s criminal trial, has always maintained that visits to him should always be under supervision, as it is the best practice all over the world.

He said Kanu has always been allowed access to his family members and team of lawyers on his visiting days without any hindrance, and at no time did any DSS personnel seize or confiscate documents brought to Kanu by his lawyers or any other person.

He added that their personnel never denied Kanu’s lawyers the professional liberty to perform their lawful duty of discussing, consulting, and interacting with him.

“Applicant’s counsels are allowed to moderate size notes or pads for the visit, but the exchange of materials that promote the IPOB ideals (subject matter of applicant’s criminal trial) were strongly resisted and refused.”

 

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