Counsel to detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has called on the Director General of the Department of State Security Services, Mr Bichi Magaji to respect the constitution of Nigeria and release those being detained illegally by his agency.
In a press statement made available to THISDAY, Mr Falana stated that DSS had given three contradictory reasons for not complying with the order of court granting bail to Sowore.
He also stated that SSS has continued to disrespect the courts by refusing to release the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and the former National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki.
Falana said: “In the light of the foregoing, we wish to direct the attention of Mr. Bichi Magaji, the Director-General of the State Security Service to section 287 of the Constitution which has imposed a duty on all authorities and persons to comply with the decisions of all competent courts in Nigeria.
“Therefore the SSS should, as a matter of urgency, 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. “
He also called on the SSS to put the record straight and stop justifying illegality. “Meanwhile, until the detainees and criminal suspects are allowed to regain their liberty the sss should stop insulting the collective intelligence of the Nigerian people by attempting to justify the subversion of the rule of law,” he said.
According to him, within a spate of one week the state security service has adduced three contradictory reasons for not complying with the order of the federal high court for the immediate release of Sowore and Olawale Bakare from illegal custody.
Falana recalled that in a public statement issued on 9/11/19 the DSS claimed that it had wanted to release the duo but for the fact that no one had shown up to receive them.
He said: “When their lawyers and family members offered to receive them the DSS disqualified them. The DSS turned round to say that it would only release the detainees to their sureties.
“Having found that it lacks the vires to vet sureties that have been verified by the Federal High Court, the DSS has asked Nigerians to believe that Messrs Sowore and Bakare had applied to be detained in its protective and comfortable custody!
“Instead of apologising for exposing Nigeria to undeserved odium the spokesperson of the security agency has asked us to believe that Sowore and Bakare,
Mr. and Mrs Elzakzaky and Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) ‘rather chose to be looked after by the DSS’”.
Falana said that since he is counsel to the majority of these detainees in question , he was compelled to join issues with the DSS on its latest justification for such brazen abuse of power.
He stated that at various times in the past four years, the Federal High Court, the Federal Capital Territory High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice admitted Col. Dasuki to bail pending trial.
He said: “Upon meeting his bail conditions on 30/12/15 he was released by the Kuje prison authorities. However, the DSS operatives arrested him at the gate of the prison and has since been detained in defiance of the orders of the aforementioned municipal and regional courts.
“With respect to El-zakzakys 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 neighbour. So we have been able to build a house, where do we release him?
“When were the El-zakzaky transferred to the custody of the DSS 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 El-zakzaky per month. Since the El-zakzakys 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 El-zakzakys by saying that the local and regional courts had failed to take cognizance of the fact that ‘national security takes precedence over the rule of law.’