Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has faulted the Department of State Services for saying that a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and others, freely chose to remain in DSS custody rather than in prison.
The Human Rights lawyer described the statement as put out by DSS Spokesman, Peter Afunaya, as a justification of the brazen abuse of power.
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Falana said instead of apologising for exposing Nigeria to underserved odium the spokesperson of the security agency asked Nigerians to believe that Sowore and Bakare, Mr. and Mrs. Elzakzaky and Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) “rather chose to be looked after by the DSS”!
“Since we are counsel to the majority of these detainees in question we are compelled to join issues with the SSS on its latest justification for such brazen abuse of power,” Falana stated.
He went on to argue that at various times in the past 4 years, the Federal High court, the Federal Capital Territory High Court, the Court of Appeal and the ECOWAS court of justice admitted Col. Dasuki to bail pending trial.
According to Falana, upon meeting his bail conditions on 30/12/15 Dasuki was released by the Kuje prison authorities. However, the SSS operatives arrested him at the gate of the prison and have since been detained in defiance of the orders of the aforementioned municipal and regional courts.
Falana said, “With respect to Elzakzakys the Information Minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed had said on June 16, 2017, that “Elzakzaky is actually not in prison custody nor police custody nor DSS custody? El-Zakzaky is in a house with his family, this is the honest truth.
“The court ruled that he will be released after his house has been rebuilt. Nobody wants to accept El-Zakzaky as a neighbor. So we have been able to build a house, where do we release him to?” When was the Elzakzakys transferred to the custody of the sss from the house built for them by the federal government?
“On another occasion, the Federal Government claimed that Mrs. Zeinat Elzakzaky was not detained but that she chose the company of her detained husband, Mr. Elzakzaky. As if that was not enough Mr. Lai Mohammed disclosed that the federal government was spending N3.5 million to feed the Elzakzaky per month. Since the Elzakzakys have been detained illegally for the past 46 months the federal government must have wasted N168 million on feeding the couple!
“The Federal Government has since justified the detention of Col Dasuki and the Elzakzakys by saying that the local and regional courts had failed to take cognisance of the fact that “national security takes precedence over the rule of law.” In fact, for not realising that Sowore ought not to have been admitted to bail the sss was reported to have threatened to report Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the federal high court to the National Judicial Council.”
The human rights lawyer further drew the attention of Mr. Bichi Mogaji, the Director-General of the State Security Service to Section 287 of the Constitution, stating that a duty has been imposed on all authorities and persons to comply with the decisions of all competent courts in Nigeria.
He urged the SSS to urgently comply with the orders of the municipal and regional courts for the release of all detainees and criminal suspects languishing in unlawful custody without any further delay.