A federal high court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to pay N10 million in damages for the illegal detention of Jones Abiri, a Bayelsa-based journalist.
Abiri, publisher of Weekly Source Newspaper, was in July 2016 arrested by the DSS.
He was accused of heading the joint revolutionary council of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, threatening oil companies and demanding money from them.
Abiri was arraigned for the first time in July following public outcry, and was granted bail in August.
He had asked the court to compel the federal government to pay him N200 million as compensation for spending two years in detention.
In the application, Abiri said the DSS violated his rights and tortured him.
Ruling on his case on Thursday, Nnamdi Dimgba, the presiding judge, said the federal government had no right to detain Abiri for two years.
Dimgba described Abiri’s detention as an outright conviction.
“Having taken his statement, the applicant should have been arraigned,” Dimgba said.
The judge said the federal government’s claim that Abiri was detained in national interest was baseless.
He said the federal government should have filed a suit against the defendant and prayed the court to refuse him bail.
Dimgba said it was left to that the court to use its discretion in determining whether Abiri should be granted bail or not.