For purportedly keeping him illegally in detention without trial, suspected Mastermind of April 14, Nyanya Abuja bomb blast, Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, has dragged the Department of State Security service DSS before the Federal High Court, Abuja, urging the court to award him N100m damages.
Ogwuche, son of a retired military general in the Nigeria Army, is also seeking the court to enforce his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Nigeria Constitution by setting him free since he had been freed by a Federal High Court on account of lack of evidence by the Nigeria police to prosecute him.
Ogwuche is currently in detention on the order of the court over suspicion that he masterminded the bomb blast, which killed scores of people. Justice Adeniyi Ademola, had, about a week ago, struck out a two count charge preferred against Ogwuche over the bomb blast incident on the account that the suspect’s prosecutor was not serious to try him.
Ogwuche who approached the court through an originating motion for enforcement of his fundamental human rights is contending that the charge against him having been struck out, the government had lost all the bases for his detention.
In the alternative, he is asking the court to compel the DSS to release him unconditionally, grant him administrative bail or charge him to court if at all he has any case to answer within 24 hours after judgment in the case.
His lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, canvassed argument for Ogwuche in court today.
Although the name of the Attorney General of the Federation was struck off from the originating motion for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, it was gathered that the Federal Government is planning to charge him to court. The DSS, which is the lone defendant in the case, will explain today why Ogwuche is still being held in its detention facility.
He is being held for allegedly masterminding the bomb blast that killed 75 people at a bus station in Nyanya, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory and thereafter escaping to Sudan.
The Inspector General of Police on behalf of the Federal Government had initially filed charges before a Federal High Court in Abuja, which aided Ogwuche’s extradition from Sudan to Nigeria.
The 2- count charge filed on behalf of the IGP by Oloye Torugbene, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, alleged that the suspect conspired with others (at large), to commit an act of terrorism by detonating Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs at Nyanya Motor Park, which resulted in the death of 75 persons and injuring over a hundred others.
Count two of the charge reads: “That you, Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, male, and others now at large, on the 14th of April, 2014 at Nyanya, FCT, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did facilitate the activities of persons engaged in an act of terrorism.”
Moments after the charge was filed, both the police and the DSS began to fight over the case file.
The DSS claimed it was the one investigating the matter and should be the proper agency of government to prosecute. The police had also insisted that it would not yield ground to the DSS. Justice Ademola advised the two agencies to settle the issue amicably out of court.
But when it was evident that the two were not ready to resolve amicably, the trial judge struck out the matter for want of diligent prosecution.
It was in the course of the struggle between the police and the DSS over the case file that Ogwuche through his counsel, brought his own application pursuant to Order 2, Rule (1),(2),(3) of the Fundamental Enforcement Procedure rule and Sections 34,35,36,37 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution seeking for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights against the DSS keeping him.
Arguing the application, Raji noted that it was based on the request of the Federal Government that the Interpol placed a red alert on Ogwuche contrary to the impression that it was the Interpol that on its own placed the red alert.
He further drew the attention of the court to the fact that the charge on which Ogwuche was arrested and detained had been struck out by the court for lack of diligent prosecution.
He added that the charge was the foundation of the extradition order which led to the arrest of the applicant.
Raji further noted that it is assumed that the state had concluded all its investigations before requesting for the extradition order.
He however contended that further detention of the complainant in the SSS custody without arraignment is illegal and pre-judicial.
He contended that the ex parte order gotten by the SSS to detain the applicant for 90 days was a miscarriage of justice.
He also contended that Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act cannot override the provisions of Section 35 of the Constitution, which preserved the right to liberty of every citizen.
He urged the court to compel the SSS to release the complainant conditionally or unconditionally, admit him to administrative bail or arraign him within 48 hours of the judgment.
He also sought for the sum of N100m damages.
It would be recalled that the federal government had on Tuesday disclosed that the case of the alleged mastermind of the Nyanya bomb blast, Ogwuche, was discontinued because the accused was not meant to face prosecution at the time he was arraigned.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC), Mike Omeri, said this at the resumption of its regular briefing in Abuja.
Omeri also explained that Ogwuche was arraigned at the Federal High Court in Abuja to fulfill the condition by the Sudanese authorities for his extradition to Nigeria.
“The case was instituted in the first place to satisfy Sudanese authorities,” he said.
Ogwuche was arrested in Sudan and brought to the country on July 15 this year on charges of being the mastermind of the 14 April twin bomb blasts in Nyanya, Abuja.
“Sudanese government wanted to see that before this man (Ogwuche) is extradited he should be actually charged for the offence at home. Therefore, to fulfill the condition, Nigeria has to take him (Ogwuche) to court and we showed evidence that his case was in court. And so, they released him to us.
“Ordinarily, the case should not have continued, because the man (Ogwuche) is still in custody of the relevant security agency, all those things to be done are now being done diligently to ensure successful prosecution of the offender,” he added.
Ogwuche may however, regain his freedom when the case comes up at the Federal High Court on January 17, 2015 for hearing.Abuja Federal High court asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, to appear in court to defend the constitutionality of Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 by which a suspect can be kept in custody for more than 90 days.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola gave the directive on Friday following a prayer by Aminu Ogwuche, the alleged mastermind of the bomb blast in Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, on April 14, 2014.Ogwuche is, through his fundamental rights suit, asking the court to declare that his continued detention by the Department of State Services without trial constitutes a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Through his lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), the applicant asked the court to quash the provision of Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 as it infringed on section 35 (4) and (7) of the 1999 Constitution.Section 27(1) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 reads in part, “The court may, pursuant to an ex-parte application, grant an order for the detention of a suspect under this Act for a period not exceeding 90 days subject to renewal for a similar period until the conclusion of the investigation and prosecution of the matter that led to the arrest and detention is dispensed with.”
Justice Ademola on Friday said the prayer being a constitutional matter, there was the need to invite AGF as the chief law officer of the nation or any of his officers to offer his opinion on the issue.
The DSS counsel, Clifford Osaghie, had opposed Ogwuche’s suit as he maintained that the agency had never breached any law with respect to the applicant’s case. He maintained that the continued detention of Ogwuche was in compliance with section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act.
He added that the SSS had earlier obtained remand order from a Chief Magistrate’s Court, Kaduna and the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.The court consequently fixed December 17 for continuation of hearing