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Activist recounts near-death experience in alleged DSS custody



Bayelsa youth activist Collins Trueman Opumie told the State High Court sitting in Yenagoa on Friday of his near-death experience in the custody of the Department of State Security, DSS, after his illegal arrest on August 2, 2016, and detained for two years based on the complaint filed by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC.

Opumie recounted his ordeal while answering questions during cross-examination in the suit (No. YHC/324/2022) against the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, and the Department of State Security, DSS.

While responding to the counsels to DSS which was the 1st defendant, Opumie, insisted that the allegations contained in the petition to the Bayelsa State Police Command and the charges filed before the magistrate court in Abuja were confirmation of the involvement of DSS and NAOC in his travails.

Opumie faulted the claim of the lead counsel to the DSS, C.S. Eze, that the agency played no role in his alleged illegal arrest and detention.

He said: “The DSS played a vital role. If they did not play any role, I shouldn’t have been in the underground cell belonging to the DSS.

“I was also taken out of my cell around midnight and blindfolded. They took me to the cemetery along Azikoro Road. I was taken to a freshly dug grave and asked to accept the trump-up charge that I wanted to bomb Agip facilities or I’d die and be buried. But I refused. A telephone was handed to me and I spoke with one Barrister Dennis of Agip.”

Opumie also faulted the claim that he was making up fairy tale stories against the DSS for financial gains and insisted that the Nigerian Agip Oil Company reported him to the police and the DSS.

“Agip painted me blue and black before the security agencies and they illegally arrested me in a Gestapo style,” he stated.

Also during cross-examination by Innocent Ekpen, the counsel to the NAOC, Opumie, who admitted that most of the records of conversations and meetings between officials of Agip and the police were lost during his illegal arrest and detention, noted that Dennis, who was then the head of the security department of NAOC, connived with the DSS and police to illegally arrest and detain him for two years on trumped-up charges.

The presiding judge, Justice Ebiyon Duke Charlie, after the conclusion of cross-examination from the two sets of defendants, DSS and NAOC, adjourned the suit until January 19, 2024.

Speaking at the end of the court sitting, the counsel to the claimant, Ebipreye Sese, assured that his client, Opumie, believed the court was his last resort to get justice over his alleged arrest and detention in an underground detention facility in Abuja for 730 days by the Department of State Security.

The activist, an indigene of Opuama Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government area of Bayelsa State, had filed a suit against his illegal arrest and detention, demanding N9 billion in damages.

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