Following the official statement issued last night (Saturday, 18th July 2015) by the Service Management of the Department of State Security Services (SSS) as it concerns its unpopular invasion of the residences of the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA), Retired Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has carefully studied the statement and observed that the country’s Rule of Law and by extension; its democratic pluralistic composition are at crossroads; save the coercive instruments of the State are forced popularly to revert to their original democratic roles. We also thank the Service Management of the DSS for exercising its corporate rights to freedom of expression and fair hearing as guaranteed by Sections 39 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
For the records, the Service Management of the Nigeria’s Secret Police called “DSS”/”SSS” had on Thursday, 16th and Friday, 17th July 2015 carried invasion operations on the residences of the trio of Retired Col Sambo Dasuki (immediate past NSA), Retired Col Bello Fadile and Mr. Gordon Obua (immediate past Chief Security Officer-CSO to former President Goodluck Jonathan). Most of the operations were carried out at the hours of the blue law (late evening and unofficial hours). For instance, Retired Col Dasuki’s residences’ invasion took place around 6:40pm.
While the invasions of the duo of Col Sambo Dasuki and Gordon Obua (serving senior police officer)’s residences were carried out on Thursday, 16th July 2015; that of Col Bello Fadile took place on Friday, 17th July 2015. Of the three popular citizens targeted, Mr. Gordon Obua is still held in the dudgeon of the Secret Police in Abuja. Retired Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki served as the National Security Adviser under former President Goodluck Jonathan and briefly served under nascent Buhari’s Presidency before he was removed alongside Service Chiefs on Monday, 13th July 2015. His three residences were invaded barely 72 hours after he was relieved of his NSA post.
According to the statement of the SSS under reference, the Service acted based on “credible intelligence linking the immediate past NSA, Mohammed Sambo DASUKI (Col Rtd) with alleged plans to committee treasonable felony against Nigerian State”. The SSS further revealed that it recovered during the invasions of his residences as follows: seven (7) high caliber rifles, (high assault weapons), several magazines and military related gears, twelve (12) new vehicles, out of which five (5) were bullet proofs. According to the Service, these vehicles which are all exotic vehicles were retrieved from SAMBO’s residence having failed to produce evidence of ownership. For instance, what could he be doing with five (5) bullet proof cars as a retired NSA?
The Service further said in its official statement: “the search operations was planned to be simultaneously conducted, but DASUKI, refused the operatives entry into his main residence located at No. 13 John Khadya Street, Asokoro, despite being presented with a genuine and duly signed search warrant. Consequently, what was to last not more than two (2) hours, lasted more than ten (10) hours, up till the early hours of 17th July, 2015?
Indeed if not for the sense of maturity and professionalism of the officers and men assigned this task and the very good understanding and timely intervention of the new Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Y. BURATAI (Maj Gen), there would have been a clash between the Army operatives guarding the house and Service operatives, as SAMBO directed the soldiers on duty not to allow any movement into his house, despite the subsisting court order”. Below is the link to the SSS official statement (https://www.thecable.ng/breaking-found-incriminating-evidence-dasukis-residence-says-sss). Further links below are the media reports of the invasions of the residences of the duo of Col Bello Fadile and Gordon Obua (http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/186862-sss-raids-bello-fadiles-home-seizes-computer-hard-drive.html, https://www.thecable.ng/sss-detains-jonathans-ex-cso).
According to media reports, a number of vehicles and computer sets belonging to the duo of Sambo Dasuki and Bello Fadile were confiscated by the invading Secret Police. Also, while the Service has alleged the offense of treasonable felony (military coup or insurrection) against Col Sambo Dasuki, it has failed till date to disclose criminal reasons or offenses against the duo of Retired Col Bello Fadile and Mr. Gordon Obua. Holding Mr. Gordon Obua without public disclosure of criminal offense(s) he is alleged to have committed as well as detaining him for five days without trial is tantamount to “jungle justice or trial by ordeal”. Cumulatively speaking, this is a fundamental breach of the 1999 Constitution.
Others Constitutional & Statutory Blunders Trailing The Invasions:
The hanging around the neck of Col Sambo Dasuki an offense of treasonable felony is totally militarist and dictatorial in color and outlook. It confirms our fears that Nigeria has returned to Presidential Dictatorship, where “treason”, “treasonable felony”, and ”sedition” are commonly and recklessly used to root out and mow down political opponents and independent voices. It is also akin to reckless use of “armed robbery” and “kidnapping” by the Nigeria Police Force to inflict painful torture and summary death on Nigerian citizens, hiding under “Police Order 237”.
As for vehicles recovered from Col Dasuki’s residences including five bullet proofs, our question to the SSS is: has all official (returnable) properties in his possession been returned considering the fact that he was summarily removed as NSA barely 72 hours before the invasion of his residences? As for “seven high caliber rifles” said to have been recovered; our questions are: what about the soldiers guarding his said residence? Are they guarding with batons? Can’t guns be validly found in his house owing to circumstantial factors including his immediate past post as NSA? What is the standard practice in Nigeria with respect to NSA job? Can’t guns be found in the residence of a Commissioner of Police, not to talk of an immediate past NSA, who is yet to complete official property handover having been removed less than 72 hours? Is there any provision in the law that permit an individual of Col Sambo Dasuki caliber to possess “prohibited firearms” provided he has a presidential license or approval? Is it only “treasonable felony” that can be slammed on any individual found possessing “high caliber guns”? What about the offenses of “unlawful possession of firearms” (prohibited or personal firearm) or gun-running (trading in firearms)?
For the records, the Offense of Treasonable Felony is defined by Section 41 of the Criminal Code as follows:
1. Any person who forms an intention to effect any of the following purposes that is to say:
A. To remove during his term of office otherwise than by constitutional means the President as Head of State of the Federation and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces thereof or
B. To likewise remove during this terms of office the Governor of a state or
C. To levy war against Nigeria in order to put any force or compel the President to change his measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon, or in order to intimidate or overawe any House of the National Assembly or any other legislative or legislation authority or
D. To instigate any foreigner to make any armed invasion of Nigeria or any of the territories thereof. Manifestation of such intention by an act is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life
By the provisions of the Firearms Act, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004, its Section 3 provides as follows: No person shall have in his possession or under his control any firearm of one of the categories specified in Part I of the Schedule hereto (hereinafter referred to as a prohibited firearm) except in accordance with a license granted by the President acting in his discretion.
By Section 28 (1) of the Act: Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act specified in paragraphs (a), and (c) of this section, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction-(a) as to any offences under any of the following-(i) section 3 of this Act, (which prohibits the possession or control of firearms or certain categories)-(ii) Section 18 of this Act, (which prohibits the importation or exportation of firearms or ammunition other than through prescribed ports)-(iii) Section 19 of this Act, (which restricts the importation or exportation of certain firearms or ammunition), and-(iv) Section 23 of this Act, (which prohibits the manufacture, assembly, or repair of firearms and ammunition- to a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment.
2. Apparatus for the discharge of any explosive or gas-diffusing projectile.
3. Rocket weapons.
4. Bombs and grenades.
5. Machine-guns and machine-pistols.
6. Military rifles, namely those of calibers 7.62 mm, 9 mm., .300 inches and .303 inches.
7. Revolvers and pistols whether rifled or unrifled (including flint-lock pistols and cap pistols).
8. Any other firearm not specified in Part II or Part III of this Schedule.
From the foregoing, therefore, it is has been clearly established that the Service Management of the SSS acted ultra vires and unconstitutional. By the foregoing citations, it is indisputably established that an individual of Col Sambo Dasuki caliber (as former or serving NSA) can possess “prohibited firearms” provided the President granted him the permission. Till date, the Service Management of the SSS has failed to disclose publicly the social and securitization circumstances of the so called “high caliber guns” recovered from Col Dasuki’s residence warranting the leveling of “offense of treasonable felony” against him, including as whether he has a presidential license.
Also, possession of “high caliber guns” does not automatically make the possessor “a treasonable felon”, as there are lesser offenses like “offenses of unlawful possession of prohibited firearms” or “gun-running” (without statutory license). The SSS also appears to have earned notoriety in making sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations against groups and private citizens without successful court prosecution. One of such populist accusations was its November 2014 invasion of the APC Office (APC Data Center) located at No. 10, Bola Ajibola Street, Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria. The SSS had accused the APC of “cloning of Permanent Voters Cards with intention to hack INEC Data Base”. Till date, Nigerians are not in the know of the conclusion of the matter and successful prosecution and sentencing or acquittal (if any) of the culprits.
In the instant case, the SSS also over-stepped its statutory bounds. By law, the Service is fundamentally in-charge of Nigeria’s internal intelligence gathering, while that of counter-intelligence (foreign) appears to have been left in the hands of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Another statutory task placed in the hands of the SSS is protection of “very important personnel” like top public office holders and foreign dignitaries. “Law Enforcement Duties”, which the Service carried out at the residences of the refernced three public figures, are not part of their fundamental duties. Intelligence gathered can be transmitted to the law enforcement arm of government like the Nigeria Police Force in the spirit of inter-service agency collaborations and for onward execution.
Also, the SSS had in its statement said: “these vehicles which are all exotic vehicles were retrieved from SAMBO’s residence having failed to produce evidence of ownership. For instance, what could he be doing with five (5) bullet proof cars as a retired NSA?” Are they not bought with tax payers’ money? By this statement, the SSS encroached on, and usurped the statutory jobs of the Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force and anti corruption duties of the EFCC and the ICPC.
In all, the SSS acted and still acts the script of the Presidency headed by Retired General Muhammadu Buhari, who has returned Nigeria to the era of military’s inglorious epoch. As a matter of fact, this is a clear of “witch-hunting” using frivolous and yet-to-be substantiated criminal excuses.
We challenge the SSS to prove its allegation of “treasonable felony” leveled against Col Sambo Dasuki by successfully prosecuting him before a court of competent jurisdiction. The Service Management of the SSS must also release Mr. Gordon Obua (former CSO to Goodluck Jonathan) or charge him to court immediately. The Service must end its harassment of the three key figures under reference and other citizens it has already penciled down in its black book at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The United States Government, which is hosting President Buhari for four days, must caution him to trade softly before he plunges Nigeria into chaos of unmanageable proportions. Activities such as the foregoing have been responsible for most of the ongoing 568 armed conflicts around the world and 167 on African Continent. Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari must be thought in Washington DC the tenets of pluralistic democracy and respect for the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian People, else he will lose patience and tolerance of the country’s citizens.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program