A federal high court sitting in Abuja yesterday awarded the sum of five million naira against the State security service (SSS) for stripping officers of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) led by its Zamfara state Commander, Mustapha Umar Gusau naked in a public function in Zamfara state.
The court presided by Justice E.S. Chukwu also ordered that the SSS operatives from henceforth stop harassing officers and men of the Peace Corps.
“The continued circulation of circulars directing the arrest and harassment of the plaintiff’s officers without approval from the government is an aberration of fundamental human rights of the plaintiffs and therefore illegal and unconstitutional. Harassment of the plaintiffs by the 1st and 2nd defendants without just course is unlawful and not justified”, Justice Chukwu held.
Justice Chukwu in a judgment of which PCN (Plaintiffs) were asking for enforcement of their fundamental human rights frowned at the SSS by way and manner the treated the plaintiffs.
“What is a moral justification of the SSS for stripping the corps members naked in public? It is an aberration of the law and against the principles of fundamental human rights and African charter on human and peoples rights. The SSS has no right to harass the Corps except with cogent and verifiable evidence and since there is no such evidence in this case, the SSS do not have the right to act in the manner they did”.
The judge said he was touched by averments of the plaintiffs as contained in the affidavit in support of the application for enforcement of fundamental human rights.
“I am particular about the a case where the plaintiff stated thus: In Zamfara state, on May 28, 2012 the 5th applicant as a state commandant of the 1st applicant who led 14 other members of the organization to a state government function in the state were not only harassed but seriously embarrassed and humiliated when officers of the respondents armed to the teeth arrested them and directed them to remove the uniforms of the organization they were wearing on the ground that the 1st applicant is an illegal organization”.
“That when the 5th and the other 14 members of the organization refused to remove their uniform as they were instructed by the officers of the 1st and 2nd respondents, they were stripped naked in public to the gaze of everybody present at the function”.