Unlawful detention: Court orders SSS to apologise to El-Rufai, pay him N2m in damages
The Federal High Court on Monday ordered the State Security Service to apologise to a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, and to pay him N2 million in damages for unlawful detention.
This follows the events of November 15 and 16 2013, during the last Anambra governorship elections, when SSS officials detained and harassed Mr. El-Rufai at the Finotel in Awka.
Dissatisfied with his treatment, and believing that the conduct of the SSS had no basis in law, Mr. El-Rufai approached the court for redress.
The case was listed as FHC/AWK/CS/310/13, with the SSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation as respondents.
Delivering judgment in Awka on Monday, Justice Ibrahim Bature Gafai held that the SSS has no statutory powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 or under any Nigerian law to detain Mr. 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.
In addition to the apology and monetary damages, the court also made significant pronouncements regarding the restriction of movement during elections.
The court declared that the Respondents have no powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 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 on account of the Anambra State Gubernatorial election that took place on the 16th day of November, 2013 or any other election.
This decision has massive implications for the way government agencies routinely attempt to restrict movement of persons, especially during elections.
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