Saturday, September 23, 2023

Unlawful Firearms Charge: Lawyers Slam DSS For Wasting Taxpayers Money,A Push For Emefiele’s Release

The push for the release of the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has intensified as more Senior Advocates of Nigeria(SAN) have described his continuous detention at the Department of State Services (DSS) as a shame to the intelligence community.

Recalls that the DSS filed a charge of illegal possession of firearms against Emefiele last week after a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja declared Emefiele’s arrest and detention an infringement of his fundamental rights.

The court had subsequently asked that he be released in two days or be charged.

However, more lawyers and civil society organisations have faulted the continuous detention of the suspended CBN governor.

According to some of these lawyers, the unlawful possession of firearms should not be the kind of case the DSS should be wasting taxpayers’ money on.

They said illegal firearm possession is a charge that even the police can handle.

Speaking with Vanguard, a law professor, Sam Erugo (SAN), said: “The charge for illegal possession of firearms is undoubtedly an afterthought; it suggests that the DSS had no justifiable reason to arrest Mr. Emefiele in the first place.

“It means that after the illegal arrest, the DSS has been searching for a charge to justify the arrest.

“With all the noise since last year about Emefiele’s crimes affecting national security, it is surprising that DSS will detain him for one month without any charge and had to wait for court orders before coming up with a spurious charge.

“The action of the DSS is condemnable as a clear affront to the rule of law and in breach of Emefiele’s fundamental human rights guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution, particularly, his right to personal liberty, fair hearing, and freedom of movement.

“Our adversarial system of criminal justice does not permit arrest without credible evidence of a crime committed by the suspect; mere suspicion is not enough, and of course, it is wrong to arrest and start looking to see what crime could be found or charged.

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“This is the impression we get of Emefiele’s arrest and detention and the story about illegal possession of firearm. At any rate, whatever the crime, the rule of law requires DSS to arraign an accused before a court of competent jurisdiction within hours of arrest; they do not have to and do not have the right to detain a suspect for days just to file any charge to justify the arrest and detention.

“The question we keep asking is, must DSS or other security agencies in Nigeria detain a suspect for long before charging him/ her to the appropriate court where his/her guilt or otherwise will be determined?”

Also reacting to the development, former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Edun, said: “I think we should commend the DSS for obeying the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja in charging Emefiele to court.

“I see this move as tactical, probably just to buy more time for them to conclude their investigation, which is taking embarrassingly too long for an agency that made serious allegations about eight months ago that Emefiele was involved in the sponsorship of terrorism and other financial crimes.

“I expected the DSS to do better than this. Filing a charge of unlawful possession of firearms against Emefiele is disrespect to the intelligence community.

‘I don’t know how the crime of unlawful possession of firearms allegedly committed by Emefiele would constitute a threat to the security of Nigeria that would warrant the DSS to charter a plane to arrest Emefiele in Lagos and fly him to Abuja.

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“Do they give other Nigerians same executive treatment? It’s high time we started calling on security agencies to account for how they utilize public funds, so they don’t abuse their office.”

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