Court urged to void provision of Terrorism Prevention Act

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, has been urged to make an order expunging Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013, as amended, from the country’s law.


The call was made in an originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/225/2022 and filed, on Friday, by Barrister Maxwell Opara and Mr Echiefu Chidiebere Luke against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

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The suit is dated Feb. 24 and filed Feb. 25 pursuant to the rule of the court and relevant provisions of the law.
While Opara, a legal practitioner, and Luke are 1st and 2nd plaintiffs respectively, the AGF is the sole defendant in the matter.

The plaintiffs asked “whether by virtue of the express provisions of the Section 1(1)(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the constitution is supreme and serves as a barometer and/or yardstick through which any other law which is inconsistent with the provisions of same becomes void and accordingly a nullity. 

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“Whether having regard to the clear, unequivocal and manifest provisions of Sections 1(1)(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the powers conferred on the court in Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act to entertain an exparte application for purposes of detaining a suspect, which procedure deprives the suspect of the opportunity to be heard, is consistent with the provisions of Sections 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which guarantees the right to such suspect to fair hearing.

“Whether having regard to the clear, unequivocal and manifest provisions of Section 1(1)(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the powers conferred on the court in Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act to detain a suspect for an initial period of 90 days; which period is renewal by extension, is consistent with the provisions of Section 35(1)(4) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which guarantees the right to such suspect to liberty.”

The duo prayed the court, upon the determination of the questions, to declare that by the provisions of Section 1(1)(3) of the 1999 as amended, the constitution is supreme and any other law that runs contrary or in conflict with its provision shall be voided. 

They urged the court to declare that Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013 as amended, is inconsistent with the provisions of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees the right of such suspect to fair hearing. 
“A declaration that Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 as amended, having provided that a court can detain a suspect without hearing from the suspect for a period of 90days subject to renewal, is inconsistent with the express provisions of Section 35(1)(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which guarantees the right of such suspect to liberty. 

“An order of this Honourable Court expunging the said Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 as amended from the said legislation,” they prayed. 

In the affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Opara, he said as a lawyer, he had conducted cases for clients where they were detained following the provisions of Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 as amended. 

“That I have had to confront cases where there was interplay of the devastating effect of Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 vis-a-vis the provisions of Sections 36 and 35 of the Constitution as amended was in issue. 

“That I had a meeting with Uloma Chidi Echefu, wife of the 2nd plaintiff (Luke), on the 15th day of February, 2022, at our law office at about 4pm and during the said meeting, she informed me about the 2nd plaintiff who is currently being detained by the State Security Services (SSS) pursuant to Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act,” he said. 
Opara, who described Luke as “a lawful Nigerian citizen,” said he is currently detained at the SSS without fair hearing since Nov. 7, 2021.

He averred “That the 2nd plaintiff was arrested on a mere suspicion of being a member of IPOB on the 7th Nov, 2021 at exactly 3.am. 

“That on the 16th Nov, 2021, the SSS filed an exparte motion before another Federal High Court here in Abuja, wherein the court granted an order dated 6th day of Dec, 2021, enabling the SSS to detain the 2nd plaintiff for 90 days in the first instance pending the conclusion of the investigation. 

“That the 2nd plaintiff was remanded without giving him a fair hearing to the allegations made against him. 
“That Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 as amended allows that a suspect be detained pursuant to an exparte application for 90 days without the suspect being heard. 

“That the said Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 as amended violates the rights of a suspect to fair hearing and right to liberty.”

As at the time of filing the report, the matter was yet to be assigned to a judge

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