A retired military man, Sgt. Burma Abdullahi, yesterday dragged the federal government and the Nigerian Army before the Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged illegal arrest and detention of his children, including his seven-year-old son.
Abdullahi urged the court to declare as unlawful and illegal the arrest of his children: Ahmed Abdullahi, 16, Mohammed Abdullahi, 11, Haruna Zarkya, 18, and Yahaya Ibrahim, a seven- year-old primary school pupil, by the Army, over their alleged membership of the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
The respondents in the matter are: the Nigerian Army, chief of army staff, general officer commanding 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Lagos, and the attorney general of the federation.
Abdullahi is claiming the sum of N10million against all the respondents, for the illegal arrest and detention of his sons.
In their affidavit filed in support of the suit, Abdullahi averred that following the security challenges in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria, they had temporarily relocated to Lagos, precisely at No 63, Ajibola St., Mafoluku Lagos.
The applicant also stated that on July 3, 2013 while he was away at Maiduguri, some men in Police and Army vehicles stormed his residence and arrested his under-aged wards, including his minor.
According to him, when he returned to Lagos and heard of the arrest, he went from one police station to another in search of his children but to avail.
Abdullahi further averred that his attention was eventually drawn to a publication in Daily Sun Newspaper of July 30, 2013, in which his children were among those paraded as suspected members of the Boko Haram Sect.
He averred that he briefed his lawyer on the development, and since then, they had made several abortive attempts to convince the men of 81 division, that his sons have never had anything to do with the sect.
The applicant is, therefore, seeking a declaration that the arrest and continued detention of his sons, without reasonable suspicion of the commission of any crime, is a gross violation of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
He also asked the court for an order, compelling the respondents to release the applicants forthwith from their custody, as well as the sum of N10 million against the respondents jointly and severally, for illegal detention.
Abdullahi further wants the respondents to tender a public apology to the applicants, for the humiliation metted on them.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, Counsel to the applicant Christopher Okafor, informed the court of the absence of Defence Counsel, despite repeated notice to him of the pending suit.
The lawyer also informed the court that the counter-affidavit filed by the defence, was filed out of time, adding that they had also failed to file a motion to regularise the affidavit, and pay default fees.
Okafor, therefore, urged the court to strike out the counter-affidavit of the respondents, and allow him him move and adopt his application before the court.