The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has issued an interim restraining order against Ebonyi State government and security agencies in the country including the Ebubeagu security network from arresting a former House of Representatives member, Linus Okorie who was recently declared wanted by the state security council.
This followed a motion ex-parte filed by Mr Okorie through his lawyer, Okoro Nkemakolam before the Hon Justice I E Ekwo.
Okorie was declared wanted last week by the State Security Council for allegedly publishing statements on social media which was deemed to have contravened the state’s controversial Cybercrimes law.
The state government further alleged that the posts he made on Facebook exacerbated an already charged atmosphere in Ikwo Local Government Area leading to the beheading of one member of Ebubeagu security outfit.
But Mr. Linus in a reaction claimed the declaration was part of the attempts to stifle the opposition in the state.
He, therefore, proceeded to the Court to file a suit against the state government seeking to enforce his fundamental human rights.
The suit has the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police Ebonyi state, Department of State Security Services and Attorney General of the Federation as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents.
Others joined in the suit are Ebonyi State Government, Barr Cletus Ofoke, Attorney General of Ebonyi State; Barr Uchenna Orji, Commissioner for Information and State Orientation Ebonyi State; Stanley Okoro Emegha, Ebonyi State Security Consultant; and Panchrist Ikechukwu Eze, SA to the Governor of Ebonyi State on Internal Security as the 5th , 6th ,7th ,8th and 9th Respondents.
Okorie, according to the originating process, urged the court to declare that the decision of the security council to declare him wanted without giving chance to defend himself amounts to a flagrant breach or is likely to breach the fundamental rights of the Applicant to fair hearing.
He also urged the court to declare the said action unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, and wrongful and a flagrant abuse of his fundamental rights.
Okorie further urged the court to declare that the attempt to arrest and detain him indefinitely by the security acting on the orders of the state government based on the said declaration by the Security Council of Ebonyi State, without a warrant of arrest, or any form of invitation amount to a breach or is likely to breach his fundamental rights and therefore unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, wrongful and amount to flagrant abuse of his fundamental rights.
He also prayed the court to set aside the said resolution of the security council on the 25th of January 2022 where the said decision to declare him wanted was taken.
Linus further urged to issue “‘a declaration restraining the 1st -3rd Respondents, either by themselves, their agents, privies or whosoever, from further threatening to arrest, detain or from arresting and detaining the Applicant on the basis of the facts and circumstance of this case”.
“An order restraining the 5th , 6th ,7th ,8th and 9th Respondents ether by themselves, their agents, privies or whosoever from taking any further steps whatsoever to incriminate, malign, and consequently dehumanise and inflict psychological torture and trauma on the Applicant, with respect to the facts and circumstances of this case.
“An order restraining the 5th , 6th ,7th ,8th and 9th Respondents , either by themselves, their agents, privies or whosoever, and from using the Southeast Security Network, known as Ebubeagu, to arrest, threaten to arrest, detain, or threaten to detain, kill or threaten to kill the Applicant herein in respect of the facts and circumstances of this matter”.
He also urged the court to order the 5th, 6th ,7th ,8th and 9th Respondents to jointly and severally pay him the sum of One Billion Naira (N1,000,000,000.00) for the unjustified, callous, reprehensible, and wanton breach and threats to breach the fundamental rights of the Applicant.
He also sought another N10m from the same respondents as cost of action.
Mr Okorie also urged the court to order the respondents to publish an unreserved apology in two national dailies.
In the motion ex parte, Mr Okorie through his lawyer urged the court to grant an interim order restating the respondents whether by themselves, agents or employees from arresting and detaining him and from threatening to do so pending the determination of the motion on notice.
He further sought the leave of the court to serve the respondents through substituted service.
Justice Ekwo while granting the applications ordered that all parties in the interim should maintain the status quo.
He said: “Order is hereby made directing parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending further orders of this court”
The Judge also granted the applicant leave to serve the 5th to 9th respondents originating processes and any subsequent processes of the matter through substituted means.
He adjoined the matter to the 21st of February for hearing on the motion on notice.