By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
Fifteen persons who were allegedly arrested, detained and harassed during the August 9 governorship election in Osun State, southwest Nigeria have sued the Department of Security Services (DSS), Nigerian Army and Nigerian Police Force over their illegal arrest and detention.
In an application for a court order enforcing their fundamental right, slated to be filed before a Federal High Court in Osogbo, the state capital, the detainees prayed for an order directing the respondents to pay them N100 million each as damages and tender public apology to each of them.
The detainees are: High Chief Sola Ogunsanya, Isaac Onajide, Babatola Segun, Ogungbangbe Suliman, Obayemi Ayo, Awopetu Odunayo, Esther Olamijulo and eight others.
The four reliefs sought by the applicants are contained in an originating summon pursuant to Section 34, 35 and 46 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 5, 6, 12, 13 and 20 of the African Charter on Human and People Rights, Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; Order II Rule 1, 2 and 3 of the Fundamental Right (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009.
The applicants in the first relief are seeking the declaration of the court that their arrest and detention was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and in violation of their right to personal liberty.
They also prayed the court to declare that their arrest and man handling by officers of the respondents constitute a violation of their freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.
While arguing that their arrest and detention prevented them from exercising their franchise in the August 9 poll and vote for candidates of their choice, they prayed the court for an order directing the respondents to pay them aggravated damages/compensation of N100 million each and tender public apology to each of the applicants.
In an affidavit he sworn to, in support of the application, one of the applicants, High Chief Sola Ogunsanya, who is the Regent of Iloko-Ijesa and a registered voter said that he was arrested on August 8 by armed officers of the respondents in his house, while other detainees were arrested on August 9 at Iloko-Ijesa and Ijebu-jesa.
He claimed that after the arrest, himself, and two other applicants were taken to the DSS office in Osogbo and Iloko police post where they were detained, stripped naked and ordered to lie down for several hours in the open without allowing them to move an inch.
According to him, the detainees were subsequently beaten, tortured and humiliated, as some of the officers were cursing, abusing them and questioning their effrontery to support Governor Rauf Aregbesola who was the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate during the election and eventual winner of the poll.
According to him, throughout the period of their detention, they were not accused of committing any offence except supporting Aregbesola, only to be released at about 6pm of August 9 without being charged to court for any offence.
As contained in the statement of fact filed along with the application, the detainees argued that their arrest, torture and inhuman treatment to which they were subjected to were based on a frivolous allegation of loitering as later disclosed by the DSS Spokeperson, Mrs Marilyn Ogar in an interview on Channels Television, saying such offence is unknown to law.
Their inhuman treatment without any order of court or legal basis whatsoever, they claimed, constitute gross violation of their rights under Section 34 and 35 of the Constitution.
In the issues formulated by counsel to the applicants, it was argued that the aim of the arrest was to terrorise the applicants and restrict their movement in an atmosphere dominated by sheer state terror and complete impunity which is totally unjustifiable in law.
The illegal arrest and detention, he said, was against the order of an Osogbo High Court restraining the respondents from engaging in arbitrary arrest of members of APC, saying, unless the appropriate sanction is applied, such harassment, intimidation, detention, and crass impunity against other members of the society and the applicants’ violated rights would be without remedy.