Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to continued “indiscriminate illegal arrests and detention” of some Nigerian citizens as well as foreigners by the State Security Service.
In a letter to President Buhari, on Tuesday, Falana said the development has left unfulfilled, the president’s pledge to run a responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government.
“Owing to the failure of the federal government to call the leadership of the security agency to order, the misleading impression has been created that Your Excellency’s administration does not have respect for the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people.
“The incessant disobedience of court orders by the DSS has questioned the commitment of the administration to operate under the Rule of Law. At the recently concluded annual conference of Nigerian Judges, which held in Abuja, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, was compelled to condemn official disregard for court rulings and orders,” part of the letter reads.
Since Mr. Buhari’s assumption of office in 2015, at least four notable persons have remained in SSS detention despite repeated court rulings granting them bail; Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel and former National Security Adviser was arrested and charged with money laundering at the Federal High Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015.
Ibraheem El Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and his wife, Zainab, were also arrested in December 2015 after the military invasion and destruction of their home in Zaria, Kaduna state.
In October this year, Nitin Verma and Umesh Asudani, two Kano-based Indian businessmen, were arrested by the SSS over allegations of money laundering. An order by Justice Usman Mallam Na’abba of the Kano State High Court for the production of both detainees in court has also been ignored by the SSS.
Falana further stated that the continued detention of the suspects by the SSS had caused embarrassment to Buhari’s government as the operatives now use the agency to settle personal scores with political opponents.
The lawyer also preempted a possible defence by the SSS to his request.
“In the light of the foregoing, we urge Your Excellency to use your good offices to direct the DSS to either release all the citizens and foreigners being held in illegal custody or arraign them in the appropriate courts in line with the avowed commitment of your administration to respect the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people under the Rule of Law.
“Furthermore, the DSS should be directed to desist from further arresting and detaining innocent people and criminal suspects without court orders contrary to the provisions of Section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.”
The reaction of the presidency to the letter could not be immediately sought as at the time of filing the report.
Also, the SSS also has no spokesperson to interface with the media currently