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Alleged unlawful detention: Court dismisses Boko Haram suspect’s suit against DSS

By NAN
29 November 2023   |   12:05 pm
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed a suit filed by Abba Maina, linked to Boko Haram activities, against the Department of State Services (DSS). Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the suit, which sought detained Maina’s release, was an abuse of court process since similar suit was pending before an FCT…

Gavel PHOTO: Shutterstock

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed a suit filed by Abba Maina, linked to Boko Haram activities, against the Department of State Services (DSS).

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the suit, which sought detained Maina’s release, was an abuse of court process since similar suit was pending before an FCT High Court.

Justice Ekwo said instituting different actions between the same parties simultaneously in different courts even though on different grounds amounted to an abuse of court process.

The judge, therefore, agreed with the DSS and its Director-General (DG) that the fundamental rights suit marked: CV270/2022 before Justice A.Y. Shafa of FCT High Court filed on Nov. 4, 2022, was similar to the instant case marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2090/2022.

“This is clearly a situation where the applicant has fallen into the temptation of instituting different actions between the same parties simultaneously in different courts even though on different grounds.

“The applicant could have clearly avoided this situation by taking one of the options available to him by law, exhausting one remedy before going for another assuming that the next action would not be caught by principle of res judicata.

“Consequently, nothing else is worthy of any consideration where a suit is found to be an abuse of process of court.

“It is on this premise that I make an order dismissing this case for being an abuse of process of court., This is the order of this court,” he declared.

Maina had, in the originating motion dated Nov. 22, 2022, sued the DSS and its DG as 1st and 2nd respondents.

The applicant sought an order mandating the respondents to produce him in court to enable the court inquire into the circumstances constituting the grounds of his continuous detention since Sept. 19, 2022.

Maina also sought an order admitting him to bail pursuant to the provisions of Sections 32(3), 32 (1) and (2), and 158 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, 36 (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and other extant laws.

Giving six grounds why his reliefs should be granted, Maina, who described himself as “a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria,” said he was arrested on Sept. 19, 2022, by DSS officers at an Abuja branch of Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) over allegations of committing an undisclosed offence.

He said the respondents kept him in detention in flagrant disregard to constitutional provisions which placed responsibility on law enforcement agency to charge a suspect to court within 24 or 48 hours.

But the security outfit argued that the suit constituted an abuse of court process, having filed similar suit in another court.

The DSS alleged that on Sept. 12, it received an intelligence from its Borno Command of plans to send N10 million to facilitate the relocation of some members of Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lid-Dawa’awati wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, from Borno to a Boko Haram Camp in Kaduna State, by one Kaura (FNU), the armourer of the terror group.

It said upon further investigation, it was revealed that Kaura (FNU) requested for the bank account numbers from one Baba Guraba and Bayero (FNU), who were Boko Haram commanders positioned around Bama Local Government Area (LGA) in Borno, to facilitate the payment of the money.

The agency revealed that Bayero (FNU) sent a United Bank for Africa (UBA) account number: 2196498467 belonging to one Basiru Hassan and a GTB account number: 025264587 belonging to Maina.

It alleged that while N6 million was paid into Hassan’s account, N4 million was paid into Maina’s account and that intelligence gathering efforts revealed that Kaura (FNU) directed those transfers and withdrawals be made through Point of Sale (POS) operators.

“Kaura (FNU) paid in a first instalment of N2 million only into the GTB account number 0025264587 belonging to the applicant.

“Based on this intelligence gathering efforts, the Borno State Command of the 1st respondent sought and obtained the orders of court to flag the said account numbers by placing a Post-No-Debit (PND) order and requested that the account holders be apprehended whenever sighted,” it said.

The DSS said on Sept. 19th, 2022, Maina was arrested at GTB, adjacent the National Mosque, Central Business District, Abuja, when he came to ascertain why he could not withdraw the funds lodged into his account.

The agency alleged that Maina was immediately apprehended and taken into custody “on reasonable suspicion of being involved in providing of facilities in support of terrorist acts, financing of terrorism, dealing in terrorist’s property and his alleged roles in the facilitation of the migration and/or relocation of terrorists within Nigeria.”

It alleged that upon investigation, it was discovered that Maina was not a law-abiding citizen “but acts as a courier and a facilitator to the Boko Haram terrorist group.”

It also alleged that upon his arrest, he was duly informed of his alleged offences in line with the provisions of the law.

“Due to the gravity of the alleged offence, the arrest of the applicant could not be made public in order not to disrupt a rather progressive investigation to apprehend other members of the terrorist group who were already on their way to Kaduna and other adjoining states,” it further alleged.

The DSS, which described Maina as “a flight risk” and that he would jump bail if released on administrative bail, said the suit was an abused of court process.

It prayed the court to dismiss it.

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