The Federal High Court in Lagos has been informed by the Nigerian Navy and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) that the detained Lagos-based hotelier, Mr. Saibu Ogunmola, whom the court had directed them to produce before it, was not in their custody but that of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Ogunmola, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Peace and Love International Hotel, Igbo Eseyore, on Snake Island, Lagos, has been in detention since January 17, after he was arrested by the men of Nigerian Navy.
Following the refusal of the navy to arraign the hotelier before any court, after being detained for over 90 days, his lawyer, McAnthony Aikharialea, approached the court for an order for his release.
Then on April 17, Justice Lilian Ijeoma Ojukwu, while granting an ex parte application filed by the hotelier’s lawyer, ordered the respondents in the suit which are Nigerian Navy and three others as respondents to appear before the court with the applicant and show cause why they refused to arraign him.
Other respondents were Chief of Naval Staff, Commander, NNS Beecroft, Apapa, Lagos and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
However, DIA through its counsel, C. O. Abodunde, told the court that the Nigerian Navy, after the order had since come to move the applicant from its custody with a concluded arrangement to hand him over to prosecuting government agency.
In the same vein, Nigerian Navy, in its counter-affidavit, filed and argued before the court by its lawyer, Anthony Ebeh, and deposed to by Lieutenant Commodore Richard Iyinbo, also told the court that the applicant was no longer in its custody, adding that since it is not a prosecuting agency, it had handed him over to the Nigeria Navy for further investigation and possible prosecution.
However, at the resumed hearing of the matter, the hotelier lawyer, Mr. Aikharialea, while moving his application to join DSS in the suit, asked the court for a declaration that the arrest and detention of his client by all the respondents is a violation of his fundamental rights under Sections 35, 41 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of 1999.
He also asked the court for an order restraining all the respondents from further arresting, detaining or any other manner of infringing upon the fundamental human rights of his client and an order compelling the respondents from whether by themselves or their officers, agents, privies to forthwith release his client.
The lawyer also asked the court for an order of N2.5 million as general damages for breach of his client’s fundamental human rights.
Upon hearing of the submissions of the applicant – Nigerian Navy and DIA – Justice Ojukwu, granted the joining of the DSS in the suit, while adjourned till June 13, for further hearing.