By Abdulwahab Abdulah Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, Sunday called on the acting director of the State Security Services, Mathew Seiyefa to review cases of hundreds of illegally detained persons by the Directorate of State Security, DSS under the leadership of the sacked director, Lawal Daura and release them forthwith.
In an open letter to the acting DSS boss, while congratulating Seiyefa, Falana made a catalog of the running battles his firm had with the ex-director general over alleged violations of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians while calling on the new boss to remedy the past wrongs. Specifically, Falana demanded that the DSS should “discontinue the frivolous charge pending against Messrs Jones Abiri, a journalist and Peter Collins Opume at the Wuse Magistrate Court; while releasing the hundreds of detainees that are languishing without trial in the various detention centers of the SSS.” The lawyer called for the release of Col. Dasuki and other criminal suspects who have been admitted to bail by municipal and regional courts, including Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky and Hajia Zeinab Elzakzaky from illegal custody in line with the orders of the Federal High Court. Falana also called on him to respect the rights of suspects to consult legal practitioners of their choice before making, endorsing or writing any statement or answering any question put to them after arrest in line with the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act of 2017 which has criminalized the use of torture in all security agencies. He urged the security boss to ensure that all detention facilities of the SSS are inspected monthly by the Visiting Judge of the Federal High Court in accordance with the provision of section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. He also called on him to stop the SSS “from further usurping the powers of the Nigeria Police Force, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission with respect to the investigation of allegations of murder, stealing, fraud, money laundering, corruption and other economic and financial crimes which are not connected to national security.” He appealed that he should ban the operatives of the SSS from wearing masks as according to him, no military or paramilitary official is authorised by law to hide his/her identity in the course of performing official duties; as well as ensuring that the SSS operates within the ambit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and the National Security Agencies Act. Promising his support for the new leadership, Falana urged Seiyefa to be committed to his promise to secure and respect the rights of all persons and operates under the rule of law. He equally advises that he, “hope that you will take urgent steps to improve the image of the security outfit from its current infamy and lawlessness to an institution that is completely dedicated to the enforcement of security laws and the protection of citizens against all acts of internal aggression.