Wednesday, 22 July 2015

News Release: Questions SSS Must Answer Over Former CSO’s Incarceration


Earlier, our leadership issued a statement, titled: “Purported News of Former CSO’s Death in DSS Custody”. We had in the statement demanded, among other things,   the public and physical production of Senior Agent Gordon Obua by the Service Management of the Department of the State Security Service as the only way Nigerians would believe he is still alive.  Though the Service complied with the said demand of ours by featuring him in a “protective news briefing” with a seemingly skewed statement; but other demands were left totally unaddressed by the Service at the news briefing in which only the detained former CSO spoke.

The unanswered questions left by the Service are: what crime(s) or offense(s) known to Nigeria’s written criminal law did Senior Agent Gordon Obua commit or alleged to have committed warranting his arrest and detention since Thursday, 16th July 2015 without trial? Under the present democratic dispensation, which law under the 1999 Constitution empowers the SSS to arrest and detain any citizen without trial? Which law under democratic dispensation empowers the Service to arrest and detain any citizen including Citizen Gordon Obua without disclosure of reasons and offenses upon which he was arrested and detained for over six days? Where are the principles of Nemo Judex In Causa Sua( one should not be a judge in his own case) and Audi Alteram Partem (hear the other side or hear both sides) in the instant case? Why did the Service keep silence on the denial of the former CSO access to his family, lawyers and physicians? As a confirmed hypertensive and diabetic patient, why did the Service deny him access to his drugs? Assuming Senior Agent Gordon Obua is charged to court tomorrow, how will he prepare his for defense and defend himself? Are the SSS operational procedures and its establishment Act superior to the 1999 Constitution?  Is the Service hiding under the moribund Decree No.2 of 1984 to unleash its renewed terror on Nigerians?

The Service Management of the SSS is called upon to provide concrete answers to the questions above. We thank Nigerians for their concerns and outcries over the solitary confinement of Senior Agent Gordon Obua, leading to fears in some quarters to the effect that he might have died in custody. It is very important to restate here that due process must be followed at all times in conducting governmental activities including visiting criminal arm of the law against citizens accused of being in conflict with the criminal law. No citizen must be arrested and detained without being informed of his or her offense, which must be written and defined by law. It is also a fundamental breach of the Constitution to arrest and detain any citizen without trial and express access to his or her family, doctor and lawyer. The SSS must respect the rule of law and principles of fair hearing at all times, otherwise its good intentions (if any) will crash. It should also revert to its core statutory functions and avoid over-stepping its bounds.


Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law

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