The Nigerian Bar Association on Friday condemned the disruption of the proceedings presided over by Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja by the operatives of the Department of State Service in their bid to rearrest the convener of ‘Revolution Now’ protest, Omoyele Sowore.
The NBA, in a statement issued on its behalf by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kunle Edun, called for the immediate suspension of the Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi, over what it described as “the disgraceful and crass violation of the hallowed precincts of the law by the officers of the Department of State Services”.
This was part of the four-point demand of the NBA in the aftermath of the Friday’s invasion of the court by DSS operatives, which caused the judge to flee her court abruptly.
Bichi’s predecessor, Lawal Daura, was in August 2018 dismissed by then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, for authorising an illegal invasion of the National Assembly by some masked operatives of the DSS.
Apart from calling for Bichi’s suspension, the NBA also demanded that the “Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Assembly immediately investigate the shameful conduct by the DSS and ensure that all persons found culpable are duly punished in accordance with the law.”
Demading the incumbent DG’s suspension, NBA said it was necessary considering the fact that “the DSS under his leadership has established itself as a brutish and irresponsible agency that derives immense pleasure from violating the fundamental rights of Nigerians and disrespecting court orders”.
The association also demanded “that the National Assembly should review the laws setting up the DSS and indeed all security agencies in Nigeria with a view to repositioning them to be more responsible and responsive to the public”.
It also demanded that the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, “being the chief law officer of the federation takes over all the political cases or cases involving politically exposed persons presently handled by the DSS”.
Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have confirmed attacking the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi in Spain.
LIB reported earlier that the former Governor of Rivers State disclosed that he was attacked in Spain by some "misguided Nigerians" while on national assignment in the European country.
“Some minutes ago, I was attacked by a few misguided Nigerians while on national assignment at a climate change event in Madrid, Spain,” Amaechi tweeted on Friday.
“They were quickly repelled by the Spanish police before they could do any harm.”
Confirming the incident, some IPOB members who shared videos from the scene of the attack expressed regret on "not getting the Minister". They however stated that they will still "get and beat" him. The IPOB members were also heard shouting "he is a criminal, Ole (thief)" intermittently.
Here is the video below;
Some irate Nigerians on Friday attacked the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in Spain.
He was attacked at an event on climate change held in Madrid, Spain.
A source close to the former Rivers State Governor told one of our correspondents that Amaechi’s attackers were members of the Indigenous People of Biafra based in Spain.
The minister disclosed the development himself on his Twitter handle, @ChibuikeAmaechi. But he did not state that his attackers were IPOB members nor disclose who they were.
Amaechi however said Spanish policemen succeeded in stopping his attackers before they could hurt him.
The minister wrote, “Some minutes ago, I was attacked by a few misguided Nigerians while on national assignment at a climate change event in Madrid, Spain.
“They were quickly repelled by the Spanish police before they could do any harm.
“I am fine. I was not hurt. Thanks for your support and prayers.”
Amaechi’s tweet was greeted with mixed reactions from his followers, as some sympathised with him, while others criticised the minister.
Sanmi John, said, “We didn’t support, neither are we praying for you. This is the pitiable condition you and your party have turned this country to. We shall overcome!”
Bankole Abe asked, “What are you doing in a climate change event? Are you the Minister of Environment? Abeg pack well (sic).”
But Peterclaver said, “Are they angry that he is developing the railway service in the country? Will that not impact on the poor masses when completed?”
Also, Promise Israel, said, “As long as Nigeria is being ruled like a place without the rule of law, this will continue to happen.”
The immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Enweremadu, in August confirmed a similar assault on him by some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra in Nuremberg, Germany.
Justice T. Ringin of a Federal High Court sitting in Owerri on Friday, ordered the final forfeiture of Dews of Hope Hospital, a 200-bed state-of-the-art hospital, allegedly built at a cost of N1.5bn by an aide to a former governor of Imo State and serving senator, Rochas Okorocha.
The hospital located at the heart of Owerri metropolis had adjoining staff and doctors’ quarters.
This is happening barely 24 hours after a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, was convicted and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for N7.65bn fraud by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had on August 22, 2019, secured the interim forfeiture of the property from Justice A. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.
The application for interim forfeiture was triggered by evidence that the facility may have been acquired through proceeds of illicit activities as funds from Government House, Owerri, was traced to the hospital.
The commission’s investigation revealed that Dr Paschal Obi, former Permanent Secretary and Principal Secretary to then-governor Okorocha, now a serving member of the House of Representatives, was a signatory to the accounts.
However, Obi, like members of the board of the hospital, vehemently denied ownership of the medical facility.
The managing director of the hospital on invitation, could not also explain how the hospital was funded.
These developments, according to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, led the anti-graft agency to file for the forfeiture of the property on July 25, 2019, under section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud, and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
It said, “In granting the request for the interim forfeiture of the property, the court ordered the commission to publish the order in a national newspaper which was accordingly published in The Nation Newspaper of August 30, 2019 and Leadership Newspaper of September 3 respectively, asking interested parties to show cause why the property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government within 14 days from the dates of the publications.”
“Upon the expiration of the 14-day notice and with no one showing interest in the hospital, the commission filed for the final forfeiture of the facility,” the statement said.
An aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing three people in an attack the Saudi government quickly condemned and that U.S. officials were investigating for possible links to terrorism.
The assault, which ended when a sheriff’s deputy killed the attacker, was the second fatal shooting at a U.S. Navy base this week and prompted a massive law enforcement response and base lockdown.
Twelve people were hurt in the attack, including the two sheriff’s deputies who were the first to respond, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. One of the deputies was shot in the arm and the other in the knee, and both were expected to recover, he said.
The shooter was a member of the Saudi military who was in aviation training at the base, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. DeSantis spokesman Helen Ferre later said the governor learned about the shooter’s identity from briefings with FBI and military officials.
A U.S. official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The official also said the FBI is examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.
During a news conference Friday night, the FBI declined to release the shooter’s identity and wouldn’t comment on his possible motivations.
“There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.”
Earlier Friday, two U.S. officials identified the student as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, and said authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related. They spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose information that had not yet been made public.
President Donald Trump declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related. Trump tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims and noted that he had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman.
He said the king told him that “the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.”
The Saudi government offered condolences to the victims and their families and said it would provide “full support” to U.S. authorities investigating the shooting.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that the perpetrator of this horrific attack does not represent the Saudi people whatsoever,” the government said in a statement. “The American people are held in the highest regard by the Saudi people.”
Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman noted on Twitter that he and many Saudi military personnel have trained on U.S. military bases and gone on to fight ‘’against terrorism and other threats’’ alongside American forces. “Today’s tragic event is strongly condemned by everyone in Saudi Arabia,’’ he said.
DeSantis said Saudi Arabia needed to be held to account for the attack.
“Obviously, the government ... needs to make things better for these victims,” he said. “I think they’re going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.”
A national security expert from the Heritage Foundation warned against making an immediate link to terrorism.
“If there is some connection to terrorism, well, then, that’s that,” Charles “Cully” Stimson said. “But let’s not assume that because he was a Saudi national in their air force and he murdered our people, that he is a terrorist.”
Stimson said it was also possible that the shooter was “a disgruntled evil individual who was mad because he wasn’t going to get his pilot wings, or he wasn’t getting the qualification ratings that he wanted, or he had a beef with somebody, or there was a girlfriend involved who slighted him.”
Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott issued a scathing statement calling the shooting an act of terrorism “whether this individual was motivated by radical Islam or was simply mentally unstable.”
Scott added that it was “clear that we need to take steps to ensure that any and all foreign nationals are scrutinized and vetted extensively before being embedded with our American men and women in uniform.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement Friday that he was “considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families.” He did not elaborate.
The U.S. has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the U.S. and in the kingdom. The shooting, however, shined a spotlight on the two countries’ sometimes rocky relationship.
The kingdom is still trying to recover from the killing last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi intelligence officials and a forensic doctor killed and dismembered Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018, just as his fiancée waited outside the diplomatic mission.
One of the Navy’s most historic and storied bases, Naval Air Station Pensacola sprawls along the waterfront southwest of the city’s downtown and dominates the economy of the surrounding area.
Part of the base resembles a college campus, with buildings where 60,000 members of the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard train each year in multiple fields of aviation. A couple hundred students from countries outside the U.S. are also enrolled in training, said Base commander Capt. Tim Kinsella.
The base is also home to the Blue Angels flight demonstration team, and includes the National Naval Aviation Museum, a popular regional tourist attraction.
Lucy Samford, 31, said her husband, a Navy reservist and civilian worker on the base, was about 500 yards (0.46 kilometers) from where the shooting happened. She said she got a call from him a little after 7 a.m. and “one of the first things out of his mouth was, ‘I love you. Tell the kids I love them. I just want you to know there’s an active shooter on base.’”
Her husband, whom she declined to identify, later told her he was OK.
All of the shooting took place in one classroom and the shooter used a handgun, authorities said. Weapons are not allowed on the base, which Kinsella said would remain closed until further notice.
The shooting is the second at a U.S. naval base this week. A sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, opened fire on three civilian employees Wednesday, killing two before taking his own life
The All Progressives Congress state chairmen have warned President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of governors working against the interest of the party because of their 2023 presidential election.
They said the governors were behind the plot to remove the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, because they saw him as a threat to their presidential aspiration.
The chairmen expressed concerns that the concerned governors had been working day and night to get signatures for Oshiomhole’s removal.
The chairman of the Forum of APC State Chairmen, who is the party’s chairman in Zamfara State, Ali Bukar, said these at their meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa on Friday in company with Oshiomhole.
Our correspondent learnt that the President rebuffed attempts by two anti-Oshiomhole chairmen to disrupt the meeting.
It was gathered that the President ordered the two chairmen from the North-West to sit down and behave themselves, while they were trying to protest against the content of the speech by their chairman.
“One of the chairmen had tried to protest that Bukar did not reveal the speech to them before the meeting. But the President asked him to sit down and remain quiet,” the source said.
In his speech, Bukar said, “Mr President, Sir, let me also express our recent worries regarding the activities of some of the governors who are undermining the efforts of the national chairman of our great party, Adams Oshiomhole, to reposition the party by plotting his removal.
“It is more worrisome knowing full well that they are not doing this because the national chairman is not performing his duties, according to the constitution, but they are fighting him due to their 2023 presidential ambitions when it is a notorious fact that Mr President had just commenced his second term in office a few months ago.”
Bukar said the governors in their desperation to nail Oshiomhole worked against APC candidates in the recent governorship elections won by the party in Kogi and Bayelsa states so they would latch on those losses to advocate his removal.
“It is really unfortunate, Your Excellency, that just after we won an additional state in the South-South, which is Bayelsa and consolidated on our hold on Kogi, these governors have been busy collecting signatures, spending our hard-earned resources in both covert and overt campaigns for the removal of Adams Oshiomhole.
“We believe Sir that the affected governors don’t mean well for your administration because after Nigerians voted massively for Your Excellency, all hands should have been on the deck to give Nigerians the desired dividends of democracy and not create crisis where there is none.”
“We want to appeal to Your Excellency to use your good offices to caution these governors so they will not destabilise the party. We need stability at this point and not anything that will cause distraction. And we use this opportunity to reiterate the vote of confidence, which we earlier passed in our national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and we appreciate Mr President for the cooperation that you have been giving to the NWC.”
Bukar appealed to the President to reward them with board appointments and to stop the trend of appointing members of the opposition in place of hard-working members.
On 6th November,2019, the DSS, the nation's secret Service in the mould of FBI or CIA, danced naked in the streets, when it invaded a court of Law in an attempt to arrest Omoyele Sowore, accused of trreasonable felony over his "Revolution Now" mantra. Recall that the DSS had finally bowed to a 24-hour ultimatum issued by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, to release Sowore and pay him N100,000 damages.
It was a show of extreme shame, disgust and degeneracy to see a whole secret security apparachick descend to the abysmal gutters of physically invading the hallowed chambers of a court of Law to forcefully arrest a suspect, viet armis, by resort to crude and unorthodox Hitlerite Gestapo tactics in a supposed constitutional democracy.
The video that went viral about this ugly and ill-advised outing that has further reduced our worth in the perception of the international community is condemnable in every sense of the word. It downgrades us, belittles us, and our humanity and make us laughable before civilised nations.
We beheld an unarmed, helpless and hapless Sowore being dragged on the floor, helplessly,like a vanquished prisoner of war (PoW) just taken as ransom. Justice Ojukwu had to be spirited off to her chambers by her security. When a government that is supposed to respect and protect institutions, citizens' rights and rule of law, invades and desecrates the SACRED precincts of a Court of law, then we are in trouble.
When the same DSS invaded Judges' homes in October 2016, terrorizing the hapless Judges and their families, many uninformed Nigerians hailed the misadventure as a sign of fighting corruption.
I had vehemently disagreed then, citing section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and section 7 of the ACJA that inure in us our humanity and human dignity and respect. I had warned then of a possible descent into anarchy and chaos if the masked DSS goons were not immediately restrained and halted on their tracks.
Friday's disgraceful and atrocious outing by the DSS is the clearest exemplification of a rudderless state in search of a redemptive deus ex machina. A government that is short on tolerance to criticism, plurality of voices and opposition and which serially violates citizens' rights and disobeys court orders is a ready recipe for organised disenchantment.
Our constitutional democracy should be one modelled on the rule of law and not on the rule of the thumb of a benevolent ruler, even if dictatorial, tyrannical, absolutist and fascist.
Ozekhome is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
When on the evening of February 27, 2016 Mrs Veronica Adika returned home from her shop, she assumed that she would receive a phone call from her husband, Felix, who had travelled from their home in Bayelsa State to Delta State for a job.
Mrs Adika, who was about four months pregnant at the time, called her husband’s phone repeatedly, but it indicated that it was switched off.
“His battery was probably dead,” she thought to herself. However, days of waiting turned into weeks and she became frantic.
She said, “My husband, who is a former Niger Delta agitator, was one of those given amnesty by the Federal Government. Different groups were receiving their payments from the government in phases. My husband and a few others visited the Amnesty Office in 2016 to find out when they would be paid.
“They were told to come under one umbrella so that payments would be made easy. My husband travelled back to Bayelsa to deliver the message to others and then they went to Delta to try to consolidate all groups.It was when he got to Delta that he suddenly went incommunicado.”
Veronica said when she got desperate, she left her three children at home, closed her provision store and boarded a vehicle to Delta State from her home in Azikoro Village, Bayelsa.
She said on getting to Delta State, she visited known associates of her husband, who all told her that indeed her husband had visited the state, but they knew nothing of his whereabouts.
Mrs. Adika said, “I checked several churches and other places but my husband was nowhere to be found. It was later that one of his friends told me that he heard my husband was arrested and put into a black vehicle. I then went to several police stations within the area but they all denied knowledge of my husband’s whereabouts.”
Mrs Adika said due to the stress she suffered, she lost her five-month pregnancy and her business.
As weeks turned into months, months turned into years, the Adika family began to imagine the worst might have happened.
Veronica said, “In March 2019, I received news from someone who had just been released from the DSS custody that my husband was in fact alive and was being detained. The person who gave us the news was among those who had been released by the then acting DSS DG, Matthew Seiyefa.
“One of the wives of the other men arrested and I travelled to Abuja on April 24, 2019 to the DSS office. We went there with our husbands’ photos and they confirmed to us that our husbands were indeed in their custody.”
But Mrs. Adika’s case is just one of many.
An activist, Ezekiel Daniel, who is now the Senior Special Assistant to the Delta State Governor on Security, witnessed a similar ordeal when he spent 15 months in the DSS custody without being taken to court.
The activist told The PUNCH that a petition was written by a political opponent who accused him of being the spokesman for the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers.
Daniel, who is a known friend of wanted ex-militant, Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, said he was arrested by the Defence Intelligence Agency as part of an attempt to force him to reveal Tompolo’s whereabouts.
He said he was kept in the DIA’s underground cell for two weeks before being transferred to the DSS where he spent over a year without being charged with any crime.
The activist said, “I was one of those critical of the Buhari government because of the political manner the proposed Maritime University, Gbaramatu, Delta State, was revoked as well as the manner in which Tompolo was being treated.
“On August 3, 2016, I went to visit a sick friend at Havilla Hospital, Warri. Unknown to me, my phone was being tracked. I was picked around the hospital and no one knew I had been arrested. I was subsequently declared missing.
“I was kept in the DIA’s underground cell for two weeks where I was subjected to mental and physical torture. Every day they would bring me out of the cell to ask me the same questions and I would give the same reply. They then transferred me to the DSS where I faced the same thing.”
Daniel said he was assumed missing for three months until one of his fellow detainees was released and was able to inform his family of his whereabouts.
He said even after his family protested his detention, he remained in the DSS custody for an extra 12 months.
The activist said, “After about 14 months in custody, a panel was set up by the then DSS DG, Lawal Daura, to look into my case due to protests from Amnesty International and foreign groups.
“I was questioned again and nothing was found against me and what I told them was verified. The panel recommended my unconditional release. On November 27, 2017, I was set free after 15 months in custody.”
When asked if he would be suing the DSS for unlawful detention, Daniel said there was no need for him to do so because the agency would not obey a court judgment.
“There is no need to sue the DSS because it is a lawless agency that will not obey court orders. I have been exonerated and even been appointed as a special assistant to the governor of Delta State. God has compensated me,” Daniel said.
While Daniel has been able to move on, the same cannot be said of Isa Umar, a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who has remained in the custody of the DSS since 2014 without being charged.
Isa, who was arrested on suspicion of terrorism, was picked up by unidentified soldiers at his family’s compound and handed over to the DSS where he remained incommunicado for three years.
Isa’s older brother, Aliyu, told The PUNCH that his brother was a social critic as he had in the past got into trouble with the authorities of ABU for accusing the leadership of the school of diverting funds meant for the construction of hostels.
Aliyu said his brother, who was a student of Library Science at ABU, was also a teacher in a local mosque near their family house located at Samaru, Zaria.
He said, “I remember that day very well. It was November 26, 2014. My brother had typhoid and I had gone to buy him some drugs. He took the drugs and went to bed. Around 2am, some soldiers attached to Operation Yaki unit came to our family house. They broke down all the doors in search of my brother.
“My dad kept asking why they wanted him but they didn’t say anything. He was in his shorts and singlet when he was found and dragged into their van.”
He said after the arrest, he visited nearby military formations to find out what his brother had done and try to see him but he was told that the soldiers who carried out the raid where unknown.
Aliyu told The PUNCH that he visited every prison in Kaduna State. He also went to military formations, police stations and area commands in search of his brother.
“Everywhere I went, they told me they were not aware of my brother’s arrest. I also visited the DSS but they said they were not aware. It was during my third visit that they confirmed to me that he was in their custody after the intervention of one of my uncles who is a magistrate,” he said.
Aliyu said they immediately hired a lawyer to help facilitate his brother’s bail but he was told that Isa had been transferred to the DSS headquarters in Abuja.
He recalled that as months turned to years, the family decided to sue the Federal Government over the unlawful detention of their son and the court on March 7, 2017, ordered his immediate release and the payment of N1m as fine and N50,000 as compensation.
“We went to court 17 times in pursuit of justice. The DSS was represented by someone from the ministry of justice,” Aliyu said.
A copy of the judgment delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Kaduna which was obtained by The PUNCH, stated that the arrest and torture of Isa contravened of Section 34, 35 and 36 of the constitution.
The judgment read in part, “I hereby declare that the act of the respondent (DSS) detaining the applicant (Aliyu) in their custody for almost two years without charging him to any court of competent jurisdiction is unconstitutional and in contradiction of our enabling law.
“I hereby make an order for the release of the applicant from the respondent’s custody. I hereby make an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents either jointly or severally whether by their agents or privies from arresting and detaining the applicant.
“I award the sum of N1,000,000 as general and exemplary damages for the unlawful arrest and detention and unwarranted infringement of the applicant’s fundamental right. Cost is assessed at N50,000 against the respondent in favour of the applicant.
Aliyu said the family spent nearly N3m on legal fees, transportation and tipping some DSS officials who claimed they could help get him released.
He said after the judgment was delivered, the DSS was served but refused to obey the court order.
“In November 2017, which was eight months after the judgment, the DSS still refused to release my brother. We began to fear that he had died in custody. We gave a DSS official N50,000 to help us give his phone to Isa so that we could talk to him and confirm if he indeed he was alive.
“I spoke to him and that was the first time I would hear his voice since his arrest three years earlier. Till date, we have not seen him,” Aliyu lamented.
The Isa family subsequently wrote petitions to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Emir of Zazzau, the National Human Rights Commission, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and any other person that could help.
“My brother was 25 when he was arrested. He is now 30 years old and his education has been affected. He has not been charged with any crime,” Aliyu said.
Hundreds detained without trial
Documents obtained from rights groups show that many others have been detained in recent times for several months and years without trial
Some of them include lucky Andrew who was arrested in Abuja on November 11, 2016 and never charged until his release 13 months later; Gabriel Ogbu, arrested in Delta State on November 9, 2016 and released after 16 months; Ibrahim Shadrake apprehended in Borno State August 28, 2015 but never charged. He was released after two years in custody
Others include: Tonye Leventis, picked up on Bonny Island, Rivers State on February 3, 2017 and released after 13 months; Joshua Golubos arrested in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on December 15, 2016 and released after 15 months; and Cobam Daniel, arrested on September 17, 2017 and released after 15 months.
The PUNCH learnt that in many cases, detainees remained in custody despite court orders mandating their release.
Human right vs national security
One of the reasons adduced for the disobedience to court orders has been the claim by the Federal Government that when it comes to issues of national security, personal liberties can be put in abeyance.
The AGF usually cites the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in the case of Asari Dokubo Vs the Federal Government wherein the court held that Dokubo could be denied his freedom based on national security.
Speaking recently in an interview, Malami, when questioned why court orders are disobeyed, said, “I concede that I have a responsibility as AGF to protect individual rights but looking at the provisions of Section 174 of the constitution, I want to state further that the Office of the AGF is meant to protect public interest and where the individual interests conflicts with the public interest of 180 million Nigerians that are interested in having this country integrated must naturally prevail and I think that position has been stated by the apex court in the case of Asari Dokubo Vs Federal Republic of Nigeria that when an individual interest conflicts with public interest, the public interest will naturally prevail.”
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), however, told The PUNCH that it is the courts that can determine what constitutes national security and not the executive arm of government.
The human rights lawyer said the Supreme Court never gave the executive arm of government the right to disobey court orders.
Adegboruwa said, “You cannot place national security above the rule of law. And as a matter of fact, the case that the government has been relying upon which is the case of Asari Dokubo and the President, which was determined by the Supreme Court.
“So, whether the fundamental rights or rule of law should be relegated in favour of national security, is a determination for the court. We cannot have a nation whereby it is the executive that will arrogate the powers to make law, the power to execute the law and the power to interpret the law. We cannot get to that stage. There is a separation of powers and there must be checks and balances.”
Judges fail to take action
Investigations by The PUNCH showed that there had been a large number of detainees in the DSS custody partly because of the failure of the Federal High Court Chief Judge to inspect detention centres as prescribed in Section 34(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Under the ACJA, the CJ is under a legal obligation to designate justices to conduct the monthly inspection in the detention centres of the DSS, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other detention centres of all Federal Government agencies.
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), subsequently sued the CJ for the infraction.“The CJ has promised to appoint judges that will be inspecting these detention centres henceforth. Based on that, I am withdrawing the suit,” he said.
Economic cost of illegal detention
Although there is no known record of how much the DSS spends on feeding and taking care of detainees, activists say it could run into hundreds of millions of naira monthly.
For instance, in the case of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakaky and his wife, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that N3.5m was spent on feeding alone.This implies that N168m has been spent on feeding El-Zakzaky and his wife alone in the last four years.
According to Falana, there is a reason to believe that the DSS detains people in order to increase its budget.
He said, “I wrote a letter to the DSS last year, stating that at least 294 persons were being detained in their detention centres. I strongly believe that people are detained for long periods to justify the DSS operational budget.
“That is why the Federal Government can be bold enough to say that N3.5m is spent monthly on El-Zakzaky, a man who had earlier been granted bail but denied his freedom,” Falana said.
The senior advocate said disobedience to court orders could adversely affect the economy of the nation.
“How many foreign investors would want to invest in a country that disobeys court orders?” he asked.
The Federal Government has also incurred huge judgment debts for unlawful detention. Falana further stated that damages are never paid to those who won in court but things might soon change due to a Supreme Court judgment.
He added, “There is an archaic law in Section 84 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act that requires judgment creditors to apply for the leave of the attorney-general before enforcement of judgment or Garnishee
“Such leave is never granted. However, a recent Supreme Court decision says if the AGF is a party to the case, such leave is not needed. As things are right now, if the police, DSS, EFCC are sued and damages are awarded, money is never paid. Such judgment debts run into billions of naira.This is apart from the general disobedience to court order which has been institutionalised.”
AI, HEDA react
Reacting to the trend, the Programmes Manager, Amnesty International, Seun Bakare, lamented the abuse of human rights in Nigeria.
Bakare said Nigerian was signatory to several international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
He said, “Personal liberty is a right guaranteed under international human rights law. Its lawful deprivation however remains a recognised tool of most criminal justice systems. In Nigeria, this tool is systematically abused, leaving people without the fundamental protections of the law. One example is the indefinite detention of people by the DSS.
“Nigeria is a party to several international human rights instruments, including the ICCPR and the CPED. International law requires that anyone arrested or detained is brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power (Article 9(3) of the ICCPR).
“It also holds that enforced disappearance and secret detention are arbitrary (Articles 2 and 17(1) of the CPED). In addition, detained and imprisoned people have a right to communicate with the outside world, subject only to reasonable conditions and restrictions that are proportionate to a legitimate aim (Article 17(2)(d) of the CPED).”
He argued that the totality of these provisions and many more point to the fact that the indefinite detention of people by the DSS has no place under international law, to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraj, said the trend must be stopped before Nigeria becomes a banana republic.
Suraj said even the President had no right to order the detention of anyone beyond 48 hours without a valid court order.
The activist said, “It is a very dangerous trend that should not be condoned by any democratic nation. The DSS has no such powers to detain people in such a manner. The law is clear. You cannot detain a person for more than 48 hours. Not even the President has the power to do such.
“The judiciary needs to assert its authority. It is the court that must be convinced that something is national security. It should not be left in the hands of the executive alone. It becomes subject to abuse when such happens and the nation will become a banana republic.”
DSS keeps mum
Attempts to get a reaction from the DSS proved abortive as its Spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunnaya, neither responded to phone calls nor a text message on Thursday.
When contacted on the telephone on Thursday, the Spokesman for the AGF, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said the AGF was not in a position to comment on specific cases of prolonged detention of persons.
Gwandu said the case of Isa and Felix were unknown to his boss.
He said, “The AGF is not in a position to respond impromptu over an allegation in respect of which he has not been accorded an opportunity to verify.
“The office of the AGF has no formal record of the veracity of the claim.
“The claim is therefore viewed as an allegation that requires verification for the AGF’s response in one way or the other. Thank you.”
When asked why court orders were being disobeyed and if it was legal to hold a person for over 48 hours without charge, Gwandu responded, “You may contact lawyers for that. Thank you for the confidence in us.”
A few years ago, I watched the video of a pack of the famed African wild dogs hunt, eventually bring down, and proceed to devour a quarry. It was an impala, antelope family. The pack isolated the most vulnerable looking member of the herd – it was pregnant - pursued it, until it fled to a waterhole which, for such animals, is the nearest thing to a sanctuary.
A few minutes ago, almost as it was happening, I watched the video of a pack of the DSS, bring down, and fight over their unarmed, totally defenceless quarry within the sanctuary of a court of law. I found little or no difference between the two scenarios, except that the former, the wild dogs, exhibited more civilized table manners than the DSS in court manners.
Only yesterday, in my commentary on the ongoing Sowore saga, I pointed out the near perfect similarity between plain crude thuggery and the current rage of court disobedience. Little did I suspect that the state children of disobedience would aspire to the level of the African wild dogs on a pack hunt.
I apologize for underestimating the DSS capacity for the unthinkable. I reiterate the nation’s concern, indeed alarm, about the escalating degradation of the judiciary through multiple means, of which disobedience of court orders is fast becoming the norm. May I remind this government that disobedience calls to disobedience, and that disobedience of the orders of the constitutional repository of the moral authority of arbitration – the judiciary – can only lead eventually to a people’s disregard of the authority of other arms of civil society, a state of desperation that is known, recognized and accepted as – civil disobedience. It is so obvious – state disobedience leads eventually to civil disobedience, piecemeal or through a collective withdrawal of recognition of other structures of authority. That way leads to chaos but – who set it in motion? As is often the case, the state, unquestionably. Such a state bears full responsibility for the ensuing social condition known as anomie.
It has become imperative and urgent to send this message to President-General Buhari: Rein in your wild dogs of disobedience. And for a start, get a trainer to teach them some basic court manners!
Yesterday, the Kano State House of Assembly again passed the law which purports to create four new emirates in the State. Earlier in the week, the House of Assembly had sent the bill to stakeholders, including the Emirate’s kingmakers, for comments and there was an expectation that there would be a public hearing. It turned out to be a ruse. While people were preparing their memoranda to send to the House, they met surreptitiously and passed the Bill without discussions. It’s a very sad day as Kano citizens realised that governance had been turned into political trickery.
The Kano State High Court had just, over a week ago, dissolved the four additional emirates illegally created by the Kano government under Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. In his judgment, Justice Usman Na’Abba said the Kano State House of Assembly did not follow due process in creating the emirates. Specifically, he nullified the proceedings of the State Assembly conducted on May 6, 7 and 8, which created the new emirates. He concluded that Governor Ganduje should not have assented to the law, since its procedure was faulty. Finally, Justice Na’abba restrained the four new emirs appointed by Governor Ganduje to desist from parading themselves as first-class emirs. This should have been the end of a rather sad episode in Kano history, where a misguided governor sets out to destroy a revered institution with a 1,000-year history. Unfortunately, the response of the spokesperson of the Kano State governor to the judgement was that they would continue to recognise the illegal emirs. It was yet another sign of state governors, who believe they are above the law and can do anything they want.
Subsequently, the government submitted a new Bill to the State House of Assembly, for the creation of the same emirates that have been declared illegal. In response, Dikko and Mahmoud, the law firm representing the plaintiffs in suit No K/197/2019 (Madakin Kano & 3 Others V Speaker Kano State House of Assembly & 7 Others) before a Kano state High Court presided over by Justice A. T. Badamasi, in a letter signed on December 3 and served on the attorney general of Kano Sate on Wednesday (December 4), drew the attention of the government to the fact that the action was prejudicial, as the subject matter of the Bill under consideration is currently being litigated on in the above referred to suit. The suit in question is challenging the powers of the Kano State House of Assembly and that of the governor to make any law concerning the creation of new emirates in Kano State. The Court has therefore directed the Kano State House of Assembly to “stay further deliberation concerning the ‘Emirs (Appointment and Deposition) Amendment Bill 2019’, pending the final determination of suit No. K/197/2019”, saying the matter does not call for any urgency that would warrant jumping the gun.
I have listened to two commentaries by the respected Islamic cleric, Dahiru Bauchi, cautioning Governor Ganduje. He has drawn the attention of the governor to the fact that seeking to destroy an illustrious emirate with over 1,000 years of heritage, achievements and respect, is simply a bad outcome that should be avoided. Secondly, he drew attention to the growing enmity between royal families and clans being fanned by the governor’s action and advised that people in power should desist from the pursuit of internecine warfare. Finally, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi argued that revered institutions are not toys people in power should play with. Rather, they should seek to leave a legacy of institution-building and peace-building, so that people would pray for, rather than curse them. Governor Ganduje should have listened to this wise counsel.
Nigeria faces numerous security threats in different parts of the country and our security forces are overstretched in trying to respond to the threats. Kano has traditionally been a very volatile State but has been relatively peaceful over the past few years. In recent times, there has been no issue that has annoyed the people of Kano as the attempt to desecrate the Emirate. Governor Ganduje appears determined to engage in action to break the peace in Kano and he should listen to wise counsel and take a lead in keeping the peace by stopping his Emirate demolition plan. There is simply too much anger, disaffection and opposition to the dismantling of the Emirate, which could lead to a breakdown of the peace.
Let us not forget that we have been on this road previously. On April 1, 1981, Governor Rimi created four new emirs that were declared to be co-equal with the emir of Kano – Auyo, Dutse, Gaya and Rano. The emirs were becoming a crowd in the old Kano Sate, as the other emirs of second-class status, namely those of Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure were also promoted to the first class status. Abubakar Rimi then declared emirs to be “mere public servants working under the directives of their local government chairmen”. On April 7, 1981, the secretary to the Kano State government, dispatched a query to the emir. Following the query, on July 10, 1981, thugs attacked and killed 34 people and burnt organisations they felt were articulating government propaganda, including Kano Radio and the Triumph newspaper offices. The thugs searched for and assassinated Dr. Bala Mohammed, political adviser to the governor. Since the Kano Governorship Supplementary Election, the activities of thugs and violent actions have multiplied in Kano and that is not the path to follow.
Governor Ganduje has been told by so many well-wishers that Kano Emirate has an illustrious legacy whose demolition should not be carried out under his watch. I had written the governor in June telling him that it would be a terrible outcome if history holds him responsible for the destruction of Kano’s historical legacy. The Emirate has existed as a kingdom since 999AD and was absorbed into the Sokoto Caliphate, following the Jihad of 1804-1807. It has since emerged as the most influential Emirate in the Sokoto Caliphate, under the control of the Emir of Kano, traversing the entire territory that is now known as Kano State. The Emirate is a melting pot, a mosaic of diverse ethnicities and traditions within Nigeria and Africa. Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II is the 57th ruler of Kano and embodies all that history and is considered as one of the most important Muslim authority in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto. It is a religious role, but it also one that has tremendous influence as an advisory role to political authorities and also a key contributor to the delivery of justice and other public services. This state of affairs should not be destabilised by Governor Ganduje.
It is unfortunate that the governor is disrespectful of the rule of law. It would be recalled that Hon. Justice Badamasi had on May 23 restrained the governor of Kano State from taking any action or further action in the implementation of the Kano State Emirs and Deposition Amendment Law 2019, which was passed by the State House of Assembly or from doing anything that will adversely affect the kingmakers or the Emir of Kano, pending the hearing of the Interlocutory Application for Injunction. The governor disregarded the ruling and coronated the emirs. Following the judgement declaring the appointments illegal, the governor has persisted in disregarding the judiciary. The powers of governors are enshrined in law and when governors disregard judicial pronouncements, it’s their own powers that they are undermining.
Kano Emirate’s kingmakers – Madaki, Makama, Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta and Sarkin Ban Kano have argued that there is a serious risk of irreparable damage that will be done to the people of Kano if the Emirate is dismantled. They have pointed out the idea that the House of Assembly could establish new emirates is based on a fundamental misconception that the Kano Emirate itself is a creature of statute. There is no law that specifically establishes the Emirate, which exists merely as a historical fact and is recognised as part of the tradition and cultural heritage of the Kano people. The precipitate action of the House of Assembly in the hurried passage of the said law in a matter of 48 hours, with no opportunity for any public participation and the governor’s defiance of court orders in proceeding to implement and appoint new emirs despite the knowledge of the proceedings before the court and the service of the court orders, is simply wrong and unbecoming of a governor. Persisting in error after a clear court judgement just over a week ago is clearly crossing the red line. Precipitate action without due consideration is bad practice for any government.