SSS ought to have put the record straight in proper context
Within a spate of one week, the State security service (sss) has adduced three contradictory reasons for not complying with the order of the federal high court for the immediate release Sowore and Bakare from illegal custody.
In a public statement issued on 9/11/19, the SSS claimed that it had wanted to release the duo but for the fact that no one had showed up to receive them. When their lawyers and family members offered to receive them, the SSS disqualified them.
The SSS 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 SSS 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 underserved 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”!
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.
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. Upon meeting his bail conditions on 30/12/15, he was released by the kuje prison authorities. However, the SSS 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 Zakzakkys, 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 were 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 Elzakzakys 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.
In the light of the foregoing, we wish to direct the attention of Mr. Bichi Mogaji, 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.
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.
Femi Falana SAN.