Reactions Trail 2 Years Detention Of Bayelsa Youth Activist

The State Police Command has opened up on the circumstances that led to the illegal arrest and the 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 the state High Court sitting in Yenagoa, that two petitions filed by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, against the Activist, Opumie, on allege attempts to attack NAOC facilities and personnel in the state, led to the opening of police investigation and later his arrest by the DSS operatives.

Opumie, who hailed from 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,.

He also maintained that, the abduction was carried out in a gestapo style, and they physically and mentally torture him, tie and threw 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.

ASP Stanley Friday, who was cross examined at yesterday hearing into the suit numbered YHC/324/2022 filed against the Nigerian Agip Oil Company,NAOC, and the Department of the State Security,DSS, on the illegal arrest of 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 whereabout of the claimant became a mystery.

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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 raises 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. Untill, 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.

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 issues 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.”

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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 directive from National Headquarters.

Peter said, 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 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. He also demanded that the DSS witness produce the purported confessional statement of the claimant allege threat against NAOC and It’s officials but it could not be produced.

The DSS witness could not produce the confessional statement of the claimant and the phone number allegedly used in sending the threat text messages to Agip in court under cross examination by Barr Ebipreye Sese counsel to the claimant

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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.

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 prepare and submit written addresses in 21 days.

The case was adjourned till April 12, 2024.

By Owunna Goodness, Bayelsa