Published On: Fri, Mar 3rd, 2017

Detention Without Trial: Why Acting President Osinbajo must intervene in my case with DSS now—Selki Torughedi

Torughedi

  • Writes National Assembly too, wants immediate intervention, justice

Six months after the Department of State Service (DSS) allegedly spurned a valid order of the Federal high court which directed his immediate release from its custody, detained suspected militant leader, Mr Kile Selky Torughedi, has written the Acting President, Prof  Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, pleading with him to prevail on the DSS to release him from its dingy cell in Abuja where he has been permanently chained down like the Biblical Gadarene demoniac since June last year without further delay.

He is specifically begging Osinbajo to look at his case with his wealthy knowledge, experience and background in law as a jurist, former attorney general and commissioner for justice and law teacher as to whether his case is not a good example of classical injustice, constitutional aberration and parody of rule of law to command his urgent attention and intervention.

Torughedi who wondered why he is still being kept in custody by the DSS for over nine months now, without any valid court order or appeal against a positive order of the high court which directed his release or any formal charge before any law court has, in a separate letter to the National Assembly, pleaded for its intervention before he is extra-judicially murdered in the DSS custody.

The instant steps followed alleged failure by various local and international institutions earlier involved in the matter to prevail on the DSS to release him from its custody.

According to the Chambers of Emeka Uchegbulam representing Torughedi, the suspected militant  was arrested and detained by the Department of State Service (DSS) since June 17, 2016 over his alleged membership of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) without any formal charge or trial contrary to the supreme provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Bar and Bench Watch reports that the Department of State Services (DSS) had actually announced, in June last year, or thereabouts, that it arrested a suspected high ranking member of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), Torughedi in Calabar.

The ‘Avengers’ constitute the militant group responsible for various attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region and other heinous crimes including kidnapping and murder.

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According to the statement issued by Tony Opuiyo on behalf of the secret police, it had claimed that “In a bid to stem the activities of vandals in the Niger Delta, this Service effected the arrest of Selky Kile Torughedi, on 17th June, 2016, in Calabar, Cross River state.

“Torughedi is an ex-militant and suspected member of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), and was arrested for planning to assassinate one M. B Yahaya, a serving military officer.

“Torughedi, who is a close associate of Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), had already conducted surveillance at the residence of Yahaya in Kaduna, preparatory to his plot when he was intercepted.

“He is also fingered as a sponsor of pipeline vandalism in some states in the south-south region. Suspect is currently assisting the service, with critical leads,” the statement added.

But Torughedi, in a seven page letter, dated December 5, 2016, addressed to the Country Director of Amnesty International (AI) was and is still not only denying membership of NDA even in the letters written to both the Acting President, Prof Osinbajo and the National Assembly as he had done before a Federal high court, Abuja but also alleging that the operatives of the organisation appeared to have made up their mind to waste him extra-judicially in their custody.

He anchored his claim on the state of his health which he said had daily suffered in custody but that the operatives of the DSS were not bothered and that he was kept in a facility and position suggestive that they wanted him to die in pain and quickly too.

The suspected militant said he was pushed to the wall to approach the international human rights watch organisation for intervention after judicial efforts to get him out of custody appeared to have failed.

The letter which was written by the Chamber of Emeka Uchegbulam on behalf of Torughedi detailed the travail of its client in the hands of men of the DSS, the intervention of the judiciary and the refusal of both the DSS and the court to enforce the positive and subsisting judgment on behalf of Torughedi.

Specifically, the chamber of Emeka Uchegbulam had narrated the same story to both local and international institutions including Amnesty International, the National Assembly and now the Presidency that Torughedi’s travail “began on 17th June, 2016 at about 1a.m, a time when some heavily armed  men numbering about ten decked in black uniform with hood drawn over their faces to conceal their identities broke into his house where he lives with his wife and three very young children aged between two and five. They dragged him from his bed, got him handcuffed him in the presence of the wife and the young children.

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“For a grueling 45 minutes, they virtually turned the house upside down as they searched every nook and cranny apparently in search of incriminating evidence and when they could not find any, the men who introduced themselves as operatives of the Department of State Security literarily dragged Selky Torughedi from the house and bundled him into a waiting vehicle that took him away.

“From his Calabar residence, he was transferred to Abuja where the DSS told the nation that it had succeeded in arresting one of the arrow heads of the Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group which had committed heinous crimes including kidnapping, terrorism, pipeline vandalisation, arms importation and economic sabotage,” the letter said.

But two weeks after Torughedi was detained by the DSS in its Headquarters facility in Abuja, he approached a Federal high court in Abuja through the Chamber of his counsel, Emeka Uchegbulam for enforcement of his fundamental human rights.

The chamber said it also demanded N100 million damages in the suit seeking enforcement of his fundamental human rights against the DSS.

The lead counsel in the fundamental rights application, Uchegbulam said although the DSS came to court to oppose the application vide an affidavit on the grounds that Torughedi is allegedly a high ranking member and sponsor of the NDA; that he was arrested for his involvement in the acts of militancy, terrorism, kidnapping, blowing up of pipelines and plans to assassinate some top government officials, the court overruled the DSS and ordered his immediate release.

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According to the petition, the trial high court judge, Dr Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had overruled the DSS on the various allegations against Torughedi for the reason that it (the DSS) had no single proof to offer to back its claims on why Torughedi should not be released.

According to the letter written to the Amnesty International, the judge was quoted to have reasoned that he had expected the DSS to file proofs in the form of a call log from communication companies showing discussions which the suspect had had with militant members plotting the nefarious activities, or in the form of statements offered by other arrested members pointing out the suspect as their member, or a confessional statement from the defendant for the court to evaluate.

The judge, according to the letter, had also held that the claim by the DSS was a puerile one when it claimed that the applicant was sponsoring NDA without explaining “in what form the applicant’s sponsorship of the militant group had taken whether it was financial, material or just moral sponsorship.

“The judge also made the DSS to realise the futility of its position on the continuous detention of Torughedi when he said a suspect who is accused of planning to blow up pipelines and commit other crimes couldn’t have been arrested at midnight in the bosom of his wife; one should expect that he would be in the creeks with his comrade at arms,” the letter narrated.

Uchegbulam though said that the judge refused to award any damages against the DSS, he said the judge ordered the secret police organisation to release Torughedi forthwith, an order the DSS failed to obey till date.

Torughedi, in his latest letter of appeal to Acting President Osinbajo through his counsel, Uchegbulam, said he had no doubt in his mind that the justice would finally be done even as he said that he is anxiously waiting for Osinbajo’s intervention.

 

 

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