The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday condemned the unlawful detention of a journalist, Jones Abiri, by the Department of State Security (DSS) and awarded N10 million damages against the federal government.

Mr Abiri was arrested in August 2016 and unlawfully detained for 2 years by the DSS over certain reports allegedly deemed unfavourable to the government.

The journalist regained freedom in August 2018 following persistent calls for his release by members of the civil society and the general public. Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana SAN similarly filed a fundamental human rights suit against the government to compel his release.

Just as the public outcry against his detention without trial intensified, Mr Abiri was hurriedly arraigned for militancy at a magistrate court in Abuja.

Delivering judgement on Mr Abiri’s fundamental rights suit on Thursday, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba said the federal government had no right to detain Mr Abiri after taking his statement in 2016.

“Having taken his statement, the applicant should have been arraigned,” Mr Dimgba ruled.

The judge said the federal government’s submission that Mr Abiri was detained in national security was baseless.

According to the judge, the federal government should have filled the suit against the defendant and asked the court to refuse him bail, so that the court could use its discretion in determining whether Mr Abiri should be granted bail on not

The court therefore declared Mr Abiri’s detention illegal and an abuse of his fundamental rights.

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