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Court awards N10m Against FG for Illegal Detention of Journalist, Abiri


A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, awarded a N10m against the Federal government as compensation for the illegal detention of a journalist, Jones Abiri.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, who awarded the amount against the Federal Government in a judgment in the enforcement of fundamental rights suit, held that Abiri’s detention was illegal and a breach of his fundamental rights.
Abiri was detained by the Department of State Service (DSS), an agent of the Federal Government for two years without trial.
The Bayelsa State based journalist and publisher of Weekly Source Paper, who was arrested and detained since August 2016, was released from the DSS custody following mounted pressures from rights group and the media last August.
After he was released, Abiri, through his lawyer, Chief Femi Falana (SAN), filed a fundamental rights suit before the Federal High Court, Abuja, demanding for N200m compensation for the alleged abuse of his rights.
Defendants in the suit include the DSS, DG DSS and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
He prayed the court to, among others, declare his incarceration unlawful.
In addition, Abiri wanted the court to hold that his prolonged detention without trial violated his right to personal liberty, dignity of person, freedom of association and fair hearing.
He therefore asked the court to award a fine of N200m against the defendants in his favour as a compensation for the illegal detention.
Justice Dimgba on Thursday agreed with him as he held that the Federal Government had no right to detain Abiri after taking his statement in 2016.
Justice Dimgba, also dismissed as baseless the submission of the defendants that Abiri was detained over national security concerns.
He said the defendants should have filed a suit against Abiri and asked the court to refuse him bail, so that the court will use its discretion in determining whether Abiri should be granted bail on not.

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