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  • 124 days after, Bawa still in DSS custody

    124 days after, Bawa still in DSS custody
    124 days after, Bawa still in DSS custody

    The immediate-past Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has remained  in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), otherwise known as the Department of State Services (DSS), 124 days after he was ARRESTED!

    Bawa was arrested June 14 but he is yet to be arraigned before any court.

    There have been calls on the Federal Government to charge him as required by the Constitution or free him.

    All eyes are on the Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), to match his words with action regarding Bawa.

    During the AGF’s screening, he spoke against the practice of arresting and detaining suspects indefinitely without charge.

    For him, investigations ought to be concluded before arrests are made, to prevent the violation of rights, as appears to be the case with Bawa.

    Fagbemi also vowed to uphold the rule of law and protect rights, and with Bawa still in detention 56 days after the AGF was sworn in, observers will be keen to see whether the new administration will operate by those tenets.

    Activists have urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene in Bawa’s case.

    A human rights expert and professor of law, Chidi Odinkalu, stressed that the 1999 Constitution prohibits administrative detention, “which is exactly what has become Mr Bawa’s fate”.

    In an article entitled: The disappearance of Abdulrasheed Bawa, Odinkalu writes: “A government that claims democratic legitimacy should not be in the business of disappearing citizens, irrespective of what they are accused of.

    “Whatever allegations against Mr Bawa are, they cannot justify putting him beneath the constitution…

    “An administration led by those who claim to have resisted the abuses of military rule should not be caught now replaying the playbook that they reviled.

    “If there are serious allegations against Mr Bawa, he deserves to be brought to account administratively in line with the service regulations of his employers or before a court of law.

    “Neither option warrants his indefinite disappearance.”

    Human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), also urged the SSS to charge Bawa or free him.

    He said: “I thought Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, provides for only one day (24 hours) of incarceration when there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres from the police station; and where there is no court within a 40-kilometer radius of the station, 48 hours; or any longer period which the court considers reasonable given the particular circumstances of the case.

    “The DSS, through its Director of Information, Willie Bassey, cited ‘weighty allegations of abuse of office levelled against him’, as the reason for Bawa’s continued captivity.

    “This continued detention without trial is barbaric, atrocious and unconscionable, to say the least. Are we still living in the early caveman Australopithecus era? I do not know. Or, do you?

    “Till date, the DSS has not told Nigerians what Bawa’s specific offences are (if any), or the level of ‘investigation’.

    “Even if he committed some infractions of the law, can illegality beget legality? Can two wrongs make a right? Can the DSS continue to be the accuser, arrester, detainer, investigator, prosecutor and judge? What is going on here?

    “The last time I checked, even amongst mad people, there was orderliness. DSS, for God’s sake, and the sake of decency and our constitutional democracy, release Bawa immediately and forthwith.”

    A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dayo Akinlaja, noted that Bawa may have been detained pursuant to ex-parte court orders obtained on the basis that investigation is ongoing, but he believes his indefinite detention goes against the spirit Constitution.

    “There is no disputing the fact that any long detention without arraignment in court is against the spirit of the constitution,” a report quotes him as saying.

    Observers have also wondered whether some of those Bawa investigated, among whom are those now in government, are behind his travails.

    There is the fear that the war against corruption will fail if those leading it are victimised for stepping on powerful toes.


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