court dismisses Nnamdi Kanu’s suit against SSS


A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), against the State Security Service (SSS). The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/482/2022, was filed by Kanu’s lawyer and named the Director-General of the SSS, the SSS itself, and the Attorney-General of the Federation as respondents.

In the suit, Kanu alleged that the SSS subjected him to various forms of inhuman treatment, including the denial of his rights to wear traditional Igbo attire known as “Isi-Agu” while in their custody or appearing in court. He also accused the SSS of torture and breaching his right to dignity. As a result, he sought an order directing the respondents to allow him to wear clothes of his choice and other reliefs.

However, the SSS and its Director-General filed a counter affidavit, refuting Kanu’s claims and urging the court to dismiss the suit. They denied ever torturing Kanu physically or mentally while he was in their custody. They explained that there was a dress code policy in their facility, which prohibited inmates from wearing clothes with offensive symbols, writings, or colors that could be deemed offensive to any religion, ethnic group, or the Nigerian state.

The SSS argued that Kanu’s allegations lacked concrete evidence and stated that other suspects in their custody were not allowed to wear clothes of their choice, including traditional attire from different ethnic groups. They emphasized that the facility was not a recreational center or traditional festival where inmates could freely adorn themselves in their respective traditional attires.

In his judgment, Justice James Omotosho held that Kanu’s suit lacked merit and should be dismissed. He stated that the right to human dignity, as contained in Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution, relates to rights against torture, inhuman treatment, and other similar violations. He found that Kanu’s case did not involve torture or forced labor, as there was no evidence before the court to support such claims.

Justice Omotosho further noted that the right to dignity does not entitle an inmate to change clothes in prison, as the Constitution does not explicitly provide for such a right. He emphasized that the burden of proof was on Kanu to substantiate his claims, but the applicant had failed to provide sufficient evidence or present the photographs and names of other inmates who were allegedly allowed to wear different attires.

Consequently, the judge dismissed Kanu’s case for lacking merit. This ruling adds to the series of legal setbacks Kanu has faced in his legal battles against the Nigerian government and its security agencies. It remains to be seen if he will explore other legal avenues or pursue further action in his quest for justice.

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