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60 Lawyers Ask Court to Jail DSS DG for Disobeying Order on Emefiele’s Release

They said arresting the CBN Governor and not Asari Dokubo is shameful.

Constitutional and human rights lawyers in Abuja, numbering about 60 on Monday, stormed the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to commence a committal to prison proceedings against the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi, over alleged violation of multiple judgments and orders of court directing the release of former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele from custody.

The consortium of lawyers led by Mr. Maxwell Opara and Ahmed Tijani, specifically are asking the court to commit the DSS DG to prison until he purges himself of the contempt.

Since Emefiele’s suspension and arrest since June 10, 2023, the DSS, last week, charged him with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

A copy of the charges showed that the case was filed on Thursday (13 July), the same day an FCT High Court gave the DSS one-week ultimatum to either charge him in court or release him.

The security agency accused Emefiele of possessing a single-barrel shotgun (JOJEFF MAGNUM 8371) without a licence; an offence said to be contrary to Section 4 of the Firearms Act, and punishable under Section 27 (1b) of the same Act.

In the second count, the DSS charged him with illegally possessing 23 rounds of live ammunition (cartridges) without a licence. The offence was also said to be contrary to Section 8 of the Firearms and punishable under Section 27 (1)(b)(il) of the same Act.

However, in their motion filed before the court for the issuing of Form 48 and Form 49, which are the forms to commence proceedings to commit a contemnor to prison, the lawyers said by the judgments and orders of Justice M. A. Hassan, Justice Hamza Muazu and Justice Bello Kawu, the DG DSS ought to have released Emefiele from detention.

In the affidavit in support of the application, the consortium deposed to the fact, Hon. Justice M. A. Hassan, restrained the respondents in that suit, particularly, the State Security Service from arresting, detaining, or interrogating Emefiele for offences connected to terrorism financing, money laundering, round tripping, financial crimes of national security dimension etc.

It was their deposition that despite the clear and positive orders of Justice Hassan, the State Security Service still went ahead to arrest and detain Emefiele and had detained him for well over a month while shopping for evidence “which does not exist.”

Addressing newsmen shortly after filing their processes at the Registry of the court, Opara said the group would pursue the matter to its logical conclusion and ensure that the DSS DG was sent to prison so as to serve as a deterrent to other heads of security agencies and top government officials that contempt of court and gross abuse of their offices for personal vendetta would no longer be tolerated.

Also, the lawyers called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to immediately relieve Bichi of his appointment as DG of the DSS, “for having obviously misled the President that Emefiele had committed heinous crimes against the State only for him to now file a charge of possession of a validly registered pump action rifle against him.”

“Is it not clear enough to Nigerians that that the SSS is persecuting Mr. Emefiele if after holding him for five weeks they can only file a ridiculous charge of possessing a validly registered pump action gun?” Mr. Opara asked. He continued: “If possessing a validly registered pump action gun is a crime worthy of being held in perpetuity, what has the SSS done to the person threatening Nigerians from a particular section of the country with an assault rifle? This clearly shows the travail of Mr. Emefiele is more for political reasons than for any other.”

He concluded by questioning that assuming there was no valid court order, since the DSS had been unable to find any evidence against Mr. Emefiele, he was entitled to his release.

“How much more now that three different courts have ordered his release, the SSS is still holding him in unlawful detention and violating all his rights, hence the reason why the consortium will ensure Bichi ends up being committed to prison,” he added.

Meanwhile, a civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Monday, said it was shameful that the DSS which had  failed to arrest ex-Niger Delta agitator, Asari Dokubo, was pressing charges against the suspended Governor of the CBN, for alleged illegal possession of firearms.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, also queried why all the bandits brandishing military grade weapons in videos have not been arrested and prosecuted by the DSS.

Onwubiko said, “The fresh charge against Godwin Emefiele is laughable. More laughable is that the DSS spent several man-hours, resources, to track the suspended CBN governor.

“Then, why is Asari Dokubo whose viral video trended whereby he brandished military assault rifles and threatening to bring fire and brimstone on Nigeria not arrested and charged for illegal possession of firearms?

“Why are all the Fulani bandits brandishing military grade weapons in videos not arrested and prosecuted?

“This Emefiele’s matter has been reduced to child’s play by the DSS and this is a crying shame that scores of gunmen are killing, maiming and destroying people in the South East in the guise of enforcing sit at home orders of Simon Ekpa but the DSS can quickly arrest Emefiele detain him for many weeks and charge him for possession of firearms whereas the real mass killers in the South East are allowed to operate freely.”

Alex Enumah

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