Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, an Ijaw youth activist, has dragged the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), the authorities of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Police Force to court, according to SaharaReporters.
He dragged them to the State High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, over his illegal arrest and detention in an underground detention facility in Abuja for 730 days.
Opumie, in the suit numbered YHC/324/2022, is demanding the sum of N9 billion in damages.
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He is praying the court to declare that his arrest, torture and subsequent detention without proper food and medical attention and access to family members for two years is a gross violation of his fundamental rights to dignity as a person.
In his eight prayers before the court, Opumie sought the order of the court against the defendants jointly and severally “for damages suffered as a result of the false imprisonment for two (2) years under the custody of the DSS (2nd set of defendants) in their prison facilities without bail or arraignment in a court of law at the instance of the Agip (1st set of defendants) false and malicious complaints/reports against him.
“An injunction restraining the 2nd and 3rd set of defendants from further harassing or attempts to arrest and detain the claimant at the instance of the 1st set of defendants.”
Opumie, who is an indigene of Opuama Community in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, accused the DSS in Yenagoa of allegedly abducting him at the instance of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
He further alleged that the DSS personnel physically and mentally tortured him. He alleged that they tied him up and put him in the boot of a vehicle. He said he was taken to Abuja like a common criminal without the knowledge of his family and was denied access to medical care.
According to Opumie, his travail started in February 2016 when he was awarded a contract to supply AGO (diesel) by the former NAOC General Manager District, Mr. Marco Rotondi.
According to him, some Agip staff members showed “signs of malice and deliberate acts of extortion.”
He said, “I was called and accused of planning with High Chief Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo to attack the oil pipelines and Agip facilities in Southern Ijaw. I denied such accusation vehemently. And asked them that how can a man that stands to benefit from Agip be the person plotting attack against them? After the phone conversation with the head of Agip Security. I was abducted by some armed men, who I later discovered were DSS operatives, in from of the Federal Medical Centre on the 2nd of August, 2016.
“Without formal charge against me, I was taken out of DSS custody at midnight and taken to the Yenagoa cemetery with threats to extra-judicially kill me and bury me in an unidentified grave if I don’t agree to their claim that I sent Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) a text threatening to blow up their facilities. With heavy sounds of gunshots and threats, I agreed but later insisted in their custody in Abuja that it was under duress”
“I was masked and thrown into a vehicle and all through the journey to Abuja, I was denied food and water. And I was bleeding from my mouth, nose, ears, eyes and penis as a result of the injuries occasioned by the immense torture and abuse of my body by the DSS operatives at the instance and prompting of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company. And was kept in their detention facility in Abuja known as the ‘Hot Room’ for two years.
“My freedom started when I secretly sent a message to my family from the hospital bed in Abuja where I was rushed to by the DSS operative when I nearly bled to death in detention. And the quick intervention of Governor Douye Diri who was then a member of the Federal House of Representatives. He raised my issue on the floor of the National Assembly and the Speaker ordered that the DSS to either charge me to court or release me unconditionally.”
The court hearing has been fixed for Wednesday, March 15, 2023.