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Activist details alleged near-death incident while in the custody of the DSS

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Activist details alleged near-death incident while in the custody of the DSS

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Young activist Collins Trueman Opumie of Bayelsa state testified before the Yenagoa State High Court on Friday about his ordeal with the DSS, which began with his unlawful arrest on August 2, 2016, and continued for two years due to a complaint lodged by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC). Opumie said that he came dangerously close to death while in detention.

As part of his testimony in the case (No. YHC/324/2022) against DSS and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Opumie detailed his ordeal while responding to questions posed during cross-examination.

Opumie maintained that the accusations made in the petition to the Bayelsa State Police Command and the charges brought before the magistrate court in Abuja confirmed the involvement of DSS and NAOC in his troubles when answering to the counsels to DSS, the first defendant.

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Opumie was critical of DSS chief legal officer C.S. Eze’s assertion that the department had nothing to do with his claimed unlawful detention and incarceration.

The DSS was essential, he stated. It was inappropriate for me to be in the DSS’s underground cell if they were irrelevant.

Around midnight, I was similarly removed from my cell and blindfolded. Along Azikoro Road, they led me to a cemetery. They led me to a recently excavated cemetery and threatened to bury me unless I confessed to wanting to bomb Agip facilities. But I was adamant. I spoke with a Barrister Dennis of Agip over the phone that was given to me.

Opumie strongly denied the accusation that he was fabricating stories about the DSS in order to enrich himself financially and maintained that the Nigerian Agip Oil Company had informed the authorities and the DSS about him.

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“The security agencies illegally arrested me in a Gestapo style after Agip painted me blue and black,” he added.

Along with Opumie’s admission that most records of conversations and meetings between Agip officials and the police were lost during his unlawful arrest and detention, Innocent Ekpen, counsel to the NAOC, was cross-examinating him. Opumie also noted that Dennis, who was the head of the security department of NAOC at the time, conspired with the DSS and police to unlawfully arrest and detain him for two years on false charges.

Justice Ebiyon Duke Charlie, who presided over the case, postponed it until January 19, 2024, following the conclusion of cross-examination by the DSS and NAOC, the two sets of defendants.

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As the court session came to a close, Ebipreye Sese, the claimant’s counsel, assured Opumie that his client had seen this as his final chance for redress over his alleged 730-day incarceration in an Abuja underground prison by the Department of State Security.

The defendant, an activist and native of the Opuama Community in Bayelsa State’s Southern Ijaw Local Government area, had sought N9 billion in damages after suing for his wrongful detention and imprisonment.

 

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