The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), against the Department of State Services (DSS). In the suit, Kanu alleged that the DSS subjected him to different inhuman treatments, including denying him his right to wear any clothes of his choice, like the Igbo traditional attire called “Isi-Agu,” while in their facility or any time he appeared in court for his trial.
Kanu accused the DSS of subjecting him to torture, breaching his right to dignity, among others. He sought an order directing the respondents to allow him to put on any clothing of his choice while in the facility or when appearing in public, among other reliefs. In a counter affidavit, the DSS and its DG urged the court to dismiss Kanu’s claim, stating that their operatives had not and had never tortured Kanu either physically or mentally while in their custody.
Dress Code SOP
The DSS argued that there is a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for dress code by persons in their facilities. Persons in the DSS facility are allowed to wear only plain clothes that do not bear symbols, writings, colors, and logos that are offensive to any religion, ethnic group, or even the Nigerian state. The Isi-Agu attire, popularly called chieftaincy attire, was not suitable for persons in detention facilities and was against its SOP.
Dismissal of the Suit
Delivering the judgment, Justice James Omotosho held that Kanu’s case did not relate to torture or forced labor as he was never tortured while in custody based on the evidence before the court. Besides, the judge held that Kanu failed to provide the photographs and names of inmates allowed to wear different attires while in custody. The judge, consequently, dismissed the case for lacking merit.
It’s important to note that the dismissal of Kanu’s suit against the DSS is a significant development that will have implications for his ongoing trial. The case highlights the importance of evidence in proving allegations in court. The SOP on dress code by persons in the DSS facility is a standard practice that ensures the security outfit maintains decorum and orderliness in its facilities. The dismissal of the suit by the court shows that the applicant cannot come to court to seek rights that are not in the Constitution and underscores the need for individuals to ensure they have concrete evidence to support their claims in court.