A former Niger Delta militant leader, Kile Selky Torughedi, who Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS), said is a member of the Niger Delta Avengers, has sued the federal government and the DSS for damages of N100 million.
Last Friday, the DSS, which serves as Nigeria’s secret police, accused Chief Torughedi, also known as Young Shall Grow, of being a member of the new militant group said he was arrested while planning to assassinate a serving military officer, M. B. Yahaya, in Kaduna.
The DSS claimed that the former militant is a close associate of embattled former Niger Delta warlord, Tompolo and that it arrested another alleged Avenger militant, Christian Oluba, alias Sensor, as he was plotting to blow up oil pipelines.
The Niger Delta Avengers refuted the DSS claims and said that Torughedi is one of the moles planted by the DSS in the troubled region to break the ranks of the militants, describing him and Sensor, as “sleeper agents” of the DSS.
The Avengers claims that the arrest of the two by the DSS follows the refusal of the secret police to pay them for their services to the agency.
“The fact is that they are sleeper agents of the DSS sent after the Niger Delta Avengers. The boys [Young Shall Grow, Sensor] have the right to demand for their money from DSS. Why not pay them instead of arresting and labelling them as Niger Delta Avengers member?” the militant group asked in a set of tweets.
“If DSS is denying this, let them allow the suspects to speak to the press. We, Niger Delta Avengers, do not have any connection with these boys. We dare the DSS to allow the boys to tell the world their side of the story,” the group said.
Torughedi is fighting back through his lawyers alleging a violation of human rights by DSS and denying any involvement with the Niger Delta Avengers.
A source familiar with the case told The Trent that armed agents of the DSS broke into the Calabar home of the former militant at about 12.30 am on Friday, June 17, 2016, swooped on him and his naked wife as they slept in their bedroom. Both of them were beaten up while naked and humiliated by that DSS in their homes, all for an offence that is “in the imagination of the security agents”.
In a motion filed before a federal high court Abuja, through his counsel, Emeka Uchegbulam and Co, the ex-militant, who is still in detention, is making claims of N100 milling only for “psychological, emotional trauma, humiliation, harassment, intimidation and unlawful detention”.
According to Mr. Emeka Uchegbulam, he [the lawyer] and the wife of Chief Turoghedi have made several attempts to see him in the DSS detention but on all occasions in which they visited the DSS detention facility, they were denied access to the former militant who is said to be “a strong force for keeping the peace in Bayelsa”.
Uchegbulam added that Turoghedi, one of the militants who accepted late President Musa Yar’Adua’s amnesty deal in 2009 has been a law abiding citizen since he went into the presidential amnesty programme for Niger Delta militant.
“After he [Kile Selky Turoghedi] accepted amnesty, he was appointed the special adviser to the Bayelsa State governor on marine security. He held the position he held until the end of the first tenure Governor Seriake Dickson,” the lawyer told The Trent in an email.
“Chief Turoghedi has helped the Bayelsa State police command to first sea pirates. Most times he funded the fuelling of gunboats for Bayelsa State police Command. He has helped in many ways to fight against kidnaping in Southern Ijaw LGA.”
On the DSS allegation that the ex-militant was planning to kill an army officer in Kaduna, the lawyer dismissed the claims as a fabrication and imagination of the DSS.
“The allegation that he [Kile Selky Torughedi] carried out surveillance to kill a soldier in kaduna is a fabrication and imagination of the DSS. People either attempt to commit crime or are arrested to committing same. Nobody is arrested for intention. Even the devil does not know the heart of a man. Nothing”.
In the motion filed in a federal court, obtained by The Trent, Chief Torughedi placed four key prayers before the court.
- a) A DECLARATION that the arrest and detention of the Applicant since 17th day of June 2016 till date without trial is illegal, unlawful, oppressive as it violates the fundamental rights as enshrined under section 34, 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
- b) A DECLARATION that the arrest and detention of the Applicant since 17th day of June 2016 till date without access to his legal representative is illegal, unlawful, oppressive as it violates the fundamental rights as enshrined under section 34, 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
- c) A DECLARATION that the continued detention of the Applicant since 17th June 2016 without trial/arraignment to court is contrary to section 34 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
- d) AN ORDER of this honorable court compelling the Respondent to immediately release the Applicant who have been in detention since 17th June 2016 till date at the State Security Services (SSS) headquarters/and or any of the Respondent’s cell for an unknown offence.