The house arrest of Col. Dasuki



ON Thursday, the 16th day of July, 2015, on the eve of the Ed-El-Fitri festival, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former National Security Adviser (NSA) under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was put under house arrest, in a Gestapo style, and in a manner reminiscent of our sordid military past, by officers of the Department of State Security (DSS), alleging the presence or likely presence of criminal items in his houses.

For this, his houses in Abuja and his father’s house in Sokoto were ferreted about by the DSS, in spite of the protestations of Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, Snr. to the contrary. By the way, poor Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki was dethroned in April, 1996, as the 18th Sultan of Sokoto by Gen. Sani Abacha.

Col. Sambo Dasuki may have committed a most heinous crime; the most lethal weapons, including, but not limited to, bulletproof vehicles and magazines, may have been discovered in his compound; he may have misappropriated stupendous sums of money; he may be suspected of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance – all bailable offences.  But it could be that the crime allegedly committed by the former NSA is treasonable felony, definable, in our case, in terms of an attempt to overthrow the government of the nation, in contravention of Section 41 of the Criminal Code Act (LFN 2004). If so, the DSS must identify Dasuki’s co-conspirators as it is impossible for only one person to overthrow a government. 

Whatever the former NSA is accused of, the DSS must remember that Col. Sambo’s fundamental human rights are enshrined in the grundnorm of the Nigerian legal system, which is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Section 36 (5) thereof warns that “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.” That is in pari materia with Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 1948) and in consonance with the Harare Declaration, 1991, in which all Heads of Government of the Commonwealth, including Nigeria’s, committed themselves to the promotion of human rights and democracy.

Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution prescribes the mode of arrest and treatment of a suspect with regard to the length of time of his arraignment before a court of law. Subsection (5) thereof prescribes a maximum of 24 hours “(a) in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres” or 48 hours “in any other case…” That is to say that you don’t start fishing for evidence against an accused person after arresting and detaining him. And there is a long line of Supreme Court cases in this regard.

The DSS, which also arrested and detained former President Jonathan’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) (for days on end) and released him only when it falsely transpired that the CSO had kicked the bucket in detention, refused to formally prefer charges against him or arraign him before a court of competent jurisdiction. The arbitrary arrests and detentions of citizens by the DSS savour of a reincarnation of the defunct Nigerian Security Organisation (NSO) of IGP Sunday Adewusi’s days. The defunct NSO acquired a notoriety that was hardly any less than Hitlerite turpitude.

The concatenation of the arrests and detentions, the refusal of the DSS to obey Section 35 of the Constitution, with regard to the arrest and arraignment of suspects, coupled with the demotion of Marilyn Ogar of the DSS for her “role” during the last elections has conspired to cause inveterate gossips and tell tales to engage in the conjecture business on what could be the motive(s) of the officers of the DSS: is it simply overzealousness on its part, trying to over-impress the new Head of State, President Muhammadu Buhari?  Is Dasuki’s travail related to a suggestion he made, in London, that the 2015 elections be postponed for security reasons, or are we witnessing a rebirth of than draconian Decree 2? Will our President use the DSS, like one of his predecessors used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to keep a tight rein on his perceived political enemies?

Today, the abbreviation of the Department of State Security, “DSS”, like the EFCC of the days gone by, resonates throughout the country, stealthily carrying off the laurels, as it were, from the image and status of the Nigeria Police Force. Whatever may be the motive(s) of the DSS in treating people with nonchalant unconcern, they should be told to desist from actions, such as wrongly playing the role of the police, a brazen usurpation of functions that may be deleterious to our democratic experiment. The DSS should allow the ICPC, the EFCC and the Police to help the President in the onerous task of eradicating corruption from the land, and concentrate on its statutorily plain security duty of intelligence gathering so that we can put the menace of Boko Haram and of others behind us.

• Akiri, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos. 

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  • Fuzio

    Some undemocratic forces in Nigeria see nothing wrong with DSS tactics. They believe that they will occupy the presidency forever thereby being the beneficiaries of such unconstitutional tactics. They are wrong. They should go and ask PDP heavy weights. What goes around comes around.

  • santadingo

    Nigerians are primitive and hypocritical. It is
    obvious that those showing overzealousness in arresting people today were
    equally part of the maggoty corruption dance yesterday. To them, it’s just a
    fad: dancing to the new song of anti-corruption in the air. But let all be
    careful. If we set out outside the rule of law today, we must also be ready to
    bear the blame when it goes out of control tomorrow. We must concentrate on
    building strong institutions rather than strong men. Adolf Hitler turned a
    hydra-headed monster on the German people because they allowed themselves to be
    carried away in the euphoria of change that heralded Hitler’s enthronement as
    Chancellor following the decadent period resulting from the Treaty of Versailles.
    And so, when Hitler rose against the German Jews outside the rule of law, the German
    Protestants kept quiet because they were not Jews. When he rose against the
    Protestants, the Catholics kept quiet because they were not Protestants. And
    when he rose against the Catholics, he finished them because there was none
    left to cry out with them.