February 13, (THEWILL) – Authorities of the Bayelsa State Police Command have thrown more light on the circumstances that led to the illegal arrest and two-year detention of a Youth Activist, Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, allegedly by the men of the Department of State Security (DSS), in 2016.
The Bayelsa Police Command through Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Stanley Friday, told the State High Court sitting in Yenagoa, on Monday, that the two petitions filed by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), against the State Youth Activist, Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, on allege attempts to attack NSOC facilities and personnel in the state led to the opening of police investigation and later reportedly his arrest by the DSS operatives.
ASP Stanley Friday, who was cross-examined at yesterday’s hearing into the suit numbered YHC/324/2022, filed against the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and the Department of the State Security (DSS), illegal arrest of Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie and detention for two years without trial, said the attempts by the Special Investigation Bureau of the State Police Command to investigate the petition filed by NAOC was truncated and the whereabouts 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 on August 4, 2016, over the allegations raised in the petition never held as his whereabouts remained unknown “the police were later placed under pressure by Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie to produce him as the police command was his last destination.
“Police were under pressure for two years searching for Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, dead or alive. Until we saw Governor 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.
“ASP Stanley Friday also told the court that the officials of the security Division of NSOC through one Anthony Ogalla had told the police that the purported threat issues against NAOC were suspected to be issued by one Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, whom they had a 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 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.
The DSS witness, Tare Peters, also said although facts of his investigation may not be disclosed in court due to its classified nature, “He was arrested only three times.”
“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 August 15, 2016 and taken to Abuja. On August 18, 2016, a remand order was secured to keep him for 90 days. And on November 16, 2016, a Senior Magistrate Court in Abuja granted him bail.”
The claimant 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 DSS Confirming that Collins was unlawfully detained for 2years without trial.
The claimant’s counsel, Claimant, Ebipreye Sese Esq, also demanded that the DSS witness produce the purported confessional statement of the claimant to the alleged threat against NAOC and Its officials but it could not be produced.
The DSS officials also defended the position on why he did not bother to invite officials of NAOC, who made the allegation of threat against its oil facilities as part of the investigation, claiming he had a confessional statement from the claimant and inviting NAOC officials discretion.
“Upon receipt of intelligence, we saw the threat messages on the claimant on the claimant’s mobile phone and there was no need to check further and invite Agip. The intelligence we got and the man had confessed.” DSS officer claims
But the DSS witness could not produce the confessional statement of the claimant and the phone allegedly used in sending the threat text messages to Agip in Court under cross-examination by Barr Ebipreye Sese counsel to the claimant
Also, the Divisional Manager, Partnership and Business Support of the NAOC, Barr Dennis Mazi and a member of the Security Department of NAOC, Anthony Ogalla were called as separate witnesses in court.
Barr Denise Mazi, who was the then security manager of Agip, admitted under cross-examination that Agip was a nominal complainant in the First Information Report filed against the claimant by the DSS in a Senior magistrate court in Abuja.
He also claimed that the picture and particulars of the alleged sender of the threat messages were not known to him as the pictures were blurred and he could not identify Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie.
But the security personnel of the NAOC, Anthony Ogalla contradicted his boss and said the pictures and particular of
Collins Trueman Opumie were procured from the electronic mail and it was very clear. He also agreed that the NAOC submitted the petitions against Collins Trueman Opumie to the Police.
Justice Ebiyon Duke Charlie after hearing the cross-examination of the Four witnesses by legal Counsel to the DSS, C.S.Eze Esq, Counsel to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Innocent Ekpen Esq, Counsel to the Police, C.S Efe Esq and Counsel to the Claimant, Ebipreye Sese Esq, directed all parties to 21 days to prepare and submit written addresses.
He adjourned the case till April 12, 2024. The Bayelsa Youth Activists, Comrade Collins Trueman Opumie, had filed a suit against his illegal arrest and detention with demands for the sum of N9 billion in damages.
He is also praying the court declared that his arrest, torture and subsequent detention without proper food and medical attention and access to family members for two years for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
In his eight prayers before the Court, Opumie sought the order of the court against the defendants jointly and severally “for damages suffered as a result of the false imprisonment for two (2) years under the custody of the DSS (2nd set of defendants), in their prison facilities without bail or arraignment in a court of law at the instance of the Agip (1st set of defendants) false and malicious complaints/reports against him.
“An injunction restraining the 2nd and 3rd set of defendants from further harassing or attempting to arrest and detain the claimant at the instance of the 1st set of defendants.”
Opumie, who is an indigene of Opuama Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government area of the State and among Niger Delta Youths that embraced the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), in his statement of claims, accused the DSS in Yenagoa of allegedly abducting him at the instance of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), in a Gestapo style, physically and mentally torture him, tie and throw him into the boot of a vehicle and taken to Abuja like a common criminal without the knowledge of his family and access to medical care.