The Bayelsa State Police Command has opened up on the circumstances that led to the illegal arrest and two years detention of a youth activist, Collins Trueman Opumie, by men of the Department of State Security, DSS, in 2016.
The State Command through Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, Stanley Friday, told a High Court sitting in Yenagoa, on Monday, that two petitions filed by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, against the activist over alleged attempt to attack NAOC facilities and personnel in the state, led to the opening of police investigation, and his subsequent arrest by the DSS operatives.
Recall that DAILY POST earlier reported that Opumie, who is an indigene of Opuama Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, and among Niger Delta Youths that embraced the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), in his statement of claim, accused the DSS of allegedly abducting him at the instance of the NAOC.
ASP Stanley Friday, who was cross examined during the hearing in the suit filed by the activist against NAOC and the DSS, said the attempts by the Special Investigation Bureau of the State Police Command to investigate the petition was truncated and the whereabout of the claimant became a mystery.
He told the Presiding Judge, Justice Ebiyon Duke Charlie, during cross examination that the meeting fixed by the State Commissioner of Police and representatives of NAOC for 4th of August, 2016 over the allegations raised in the petition never held as his whereabout remained unknown.
“Police were under pressure for two years searching for Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, dead or alive until we saw Gov. Douye Diri on national television raising his matter on the floor of the National Assembly affirming that he has been in the underground cell of the DSS for two years,” he said.
ASP Stanley Friday also told the court that the officials of the Security Division of NAOC, through one Anthony Ogalla, had told the police that the “purported threat issued against NAOC was suspected to be issued by one Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, who they had contract of AGO with and might be angry against NAOC for illegal termination of contract”.
Also, the investigation officer of the DSS, Tare Peters, who claimed to have secured the confession of the Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie to the purported threat messages to the former Divisional Head of NAOC, Mark Rotandi, said the DSS arrested the claimant three times based on the directive from National Headquarters.
“He was arrested on the 2nd of August, 2016 and after interrogation and confessional statement, he was released on self recognition. Following the order from the NSA, he was again arrested on the 15th of August, 2016 and taken to Abuja. On 18th August, 2016, a remand order was secured to keep him for 90 days. And on the 16th of November, 2016, a Senior Magistrate Court in Abuja granted him bail,” the witness said.
The claimant’s counsel, Ebipreye Sese Esq, however disagreed with the DSS witness and pointed to some paragraphs in a judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, against the DSS confirming that the activist was unlawfully detained for two years without trial.
Justice Charlie, after hearing the cross examination of the four witnesses by counsel to the DSS, C.S.Eze, counsel to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Innocent Ekpen, counsel to the Police, C.S Efe, and counsel to the claimant, Ebipreye Sese, directed all parties to prepare and submit written addresses in 21 days.
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