Posted by News Express | 16 November 2015 | 4,049 times
The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of unleashing state terror on Nigeria, using the instrumentality of the Department of State Security Service (DSS or SSS).
The leading rights group made the allegation in a letter it wrote to the United Nations and eleven other influential members of the international community – US, UK, EU, Vatican, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil, India, Japan and Canada. Dated 13th November, 2015, the letter was signed by Intersociety Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department, Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Esq., and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, Esq. It was supported and adopted by the Coalition of the Southeast based Human Rights Organizations and copied to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Chairman of Board of the National Human Rights Commission and the National Security Adviser.
The letter cited cases of brazen disregard for the Nigerian Constitution by the Buhari administration and dwelt at length on the continued extra-judicial detention of separatist Nnamdi Kanu, which it used as a case study. It called on the world powers to exert political, economic and diplomatic influences, interests and pressures upon President Buhari and his administration so as to make them to immediately release Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally as well as drop all charges against him. Below are excerpts from the letter:
“Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is a holder of Nigerian and British citizenship and resident of the United Kingdom. He operates a UK based self determination mass communication outfit called Radio Biafra London (RBL) and chairs a sister mass group called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB); which membership cuts across the two oil rich and politically strategic South-south and Southeast zones of Nigeria, comprising eleven States of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Edo, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi with estimated combined population of over 60million people. The two geopolitical zones and their eleven states are populated by Igbos, Ijaws, Ibibios, Urhobos, Itsekiris and other ethnic nationalities.
“IPOB has intimidating followership running into millions; which cut across all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria and countries across the world including Your Excellencies’ countries. Nigeria, with over 250 ethnic nationalities dominated by Igbo, Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba ethnic nationalities has steadily been gripped by sustained triggers of a divided society such as ethnic divisions, religious fundamentalism, political segregation and exclusion, ethnocentrism, State terrorism, nepotism and favoritism, political and administrative dominance, greed and corruption, abuse of office and disrespect for human rights and rule of law.
“The Nigeria’s hate politics and violence has been age-long, leading to its bloody civil war of 1967-1970 in which over two million citizens mostly citizens of the old Biafra (the agitating groups) were slaughtered. There are at least ten major bloody ethno-religious disturbances that had hit the country from 1980 till date, leading to the death of tens of thousands of citizens of Southern Nigeria origin particularly Igbos resident in the northern part of the country as well as destruction of their properties worth tens of billions of naira. The promotion, aiding and abetting of these unnatural security threats and unsafe conditions by past and present federal presidencies in Nigeria have resulted to entrenched structural imbalances, injustices and violence; leading to increased agitation for right to self determination. The agitation became pronounced immediately after Retired Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as Nigeria’s sixth civilian President at the end of May 2015.
“It also is very important to inform Your Excellencies that the increase in agitation for right to self determination under the present Buhari administration is not on account of his ethnic background, but strictly because of his re-introduced policies of political exclusion and segregation; leading to near-total marginalization of the Southeast and South-south zones in most of his political appointments and political office compositions. Other reasons for the increased agitation for self determination include: promotion of policies of political vendetta, ethno-political primordialism and excessive deployment and use of the country’s secret police for State terrorism as well as gross disrespect for human rights, rule of law and judicial pronouncements and independence.
“The President’s divisive policies are directly linked to his several negative public comments against the people of the Southeast and the South-south zones who did not vote massively for his party and candidacy in the March 2015 Presidential Poll. He had severally been reported by local and foreign media to have vowed to run his government (i.e. political appointments, political office composition, infrastructural development and allocation of federal fiscal and material resources) on account of percentage of votes received from each geopolitical zone and we have severally cautioned him publicly too on dangers inherent in conceiving and running such divisive government in a pluralistic and multicultural society like Nigeria.
“Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s ordeal in the hands of Government of Nigeria: He was arrested by the country’s secret police called Department of State Security Service (DSS or SSS) on 14th October 2015 at the Golden Tulip Essential Hotel, Ikeja in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, hours after his arrival from the UK and was taken to Abuja and detained at its dudgeon in the Federal Capital Territory, North-central Nigeria. He was charged before the Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court, located at Wuse Zone 11 on 19th October 2015. This is after he had been held without trial for five days. The criminal charges slammed on him are: Criminal Conspiracy, Managing & Belonging to Unlawful Society and Criminal Intimidation contrary to Sections 97, 97b and 397 of the Penal Code (applicable in Northern Nigeria).
“On account of the fact that the charges preferred against him are within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Court and constitute bailable offenses (misdemeanor), Citizen Kanu was granted bail with harsh conditions of N10,000,000 (ten million naira only) with one surety of grade level 16 in like sum and must be an owner of a landed property with an original Certificate of Occupancy, within the Federal Capital Territory and for such landed property to be verified by the Prosecution from the State Security Service or DSS.
“The Magistrate Court further fixed 18th of November 2015 as trial date and ordered that he should be kept in prison custody pending fulfillment of his bail conditions. His bail conditions were judicially fulfilled on 20th October 2015. But sadly, he has remained in the DSS captivity till date; a period of 24 days. The trial Magistrate further made three consequential orders (1 Bail, 2 Production of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu before the Magistrate Court (twice), and 3 Transfer of Citizen Kanu to prison custody) against the DSS, and all the three court orders were flouted with reckless abandon.
“Position of Nigeria’s Criminal Justice Administration: As Your Excellencies may know, Nigeria’s criminal offenses are commonly defined and classified by three sentencing categories involving simple offenses (maximum of six months jail term), misdemeanor (maximum of three years jail term) and felonious offenses (maximum of capital punishment). Magistrate Courts and their equivalents are statutorily forbidden from trying criminal offenses involving capital punishment and other higher sentencing (i.e. unlawful possession of firearms, rape, manslaughter, terrorism, etc). These are strictly left in the hands of Federal and State High Courts. Nigeria also operates a dual criminal code of Penal Code (for northern Nigeria) and Criminal Code (for southern Nigeria). Penal Code is a mixture of Islamic and orthodox criminal laws.
“The two criminal codes are operated alongside their procedural laws (formerly Criminal Procedural Act and Criminal Procedural Code: now renamed Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015). There are also various criminal laws of the States cut across the 36 States in the country. All of these criminal codes, laws and their procedures are subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Also, by virtue of Section 315 of the country’s Constitution, the referenced criminal codes, laws and procedures are made subsidiary laws to the 1999 Constitution.
“Further, Section 1 (3) of the 1999 Constitution states: “if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of its inconsistency be void”. Section 1 (1) of the same Constitution further states: “this Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. It is important to further recall Your Excellencies that President Muhammadu Buhari had on 29th May 2015 sworn by the same Constitution to “abide by, uphold, protect and enforce its provisions including its fundamental human rights charter at all times”.
“Nigeria’s International Treaty Obligations: Nigeria is a leading member of the United Nations and the African Union and had signed, ratified and domesticated (as case may be) relevant and important international human rights and regional treaties particularly those that have binding or legal force on all authorities and persons. Among them are the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1976 (year of entry into force) and the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (ACHPR) of 1981.
“While Nigeria ratified the ICCPR in 1993, it had earlier in 1983 signed, ratified and domesticated the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (ACHPR) (presently cited as the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights Ratification & Enforcement Act of 2004). The municipal applicability and enforcement of the ACHPR had also been judicially reviewed and certified by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abacha and Others v Fawehinmi (2001) AHRLR 172 (NgSC 2000), which ruled that ACHPR is (domestically) justiciable or enforceable, with its status higher than ordinary legislation, but lower than the Constitution. This followed its earlier domestication by the Second Republic National Assembly of Nigeria in 1983 (in accordance with Section 12 of the present 1999 Constitution).
“Use of DSS for State Terrorism: The legal powers and duties of the DSS are contained in Section 2 (3)(a)(b)(c) of the National Security Agencies Act Cap 74, Laws of Nigeria 2004, to include: prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against internal security of Nigeria, the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria; and such other responsibilities affecting the internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as case may be, may deem necessary. In other words, the DSS was created with primary responsibility of manning internal intelligence security of Nigeria and protection of VIPs. All the powers and duties of the DSS as contained in the National Security Agencies Act of 2004 are subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and its Rule of Law principles.
“The DSS is also closest to, and directly controlled by President Muhammadu Buhari. This is contained in Section 3 (2) (a) of the Nigerian Security Agencies Act Cap 74, Laws of Nigeria 2004. The Service is one of the three successor-security intelligence agencies of the moribund National Security Organization (NSO), which was extensively deployed and used by Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was in 1984 and 1985) to enforce his two infamous and draconian Decrees No 2 of 1984 (detention of persons without trial) & No 4 (public officers protection against false accusation) of 1984 leading to reported countless disappearances, unlawful arrests, long custodial detentions, torture and unlawful killings under his military regime. The remaining two intelligence organisations created from moribund NSO are the National Intelligence Agency – NIA (for external intelligence) and the Directorate of Military Intelligence-DMI (for military intelligence).
“It is therefore important to inform Your Excellencies that the DSS has since June 2015 carried out at least twelve State-terror invasions, arrests and detentions of Nigerian leading citizens of politically and socially vocal backgrounds. The circumstances and reasons for such invasions, arrests and detentions are flimsy, politically vindictive and incoherent with the Fundamental Human Rights provisions of the 1999 Constitution and its enshrined principles of the Rule of Law. With just 166 days or barely six months in office of President Muhammadu Buhari, the DSS has already run riot on not less than twelve leading citizens in the country.
“From Gordon Obua (immediate past CSO to former President Goodluck Jonathan) to Sambo Dasuki (immediate past NSA); from Rivers and Akwa Ibom States Resident Electoral Commissioners and their six principal officers (arrested and detained while defending their 2015 governorship poll results at electoral courts) to Hon Justice Muazu Pindigi (chairman of the Rivers State Governorship Electoral Court threatened by DSS and sacked by the Appeal Court President); and from Sambo Dasuki (for the record second time) to Citizen Nnamdi Kanu, the list of the DSS riotous conducts and operational brigandage in less than 180 days of the Buhari’s Presidency has continued ceaselessly and uncontrollably. Of all the coercive or armed security establishments under the present Buhari’s administration, the DSS is the most extensively used and deployed by the Presidency to perpetrate and perpetuate these anti democratic and anti constitutional conducts; otherwise called State terrorism.
“Disobedience to Rule of Law, Judicial Pronouncements & Human Rights Norms: The Buhari’s Presidency in Nigeria is extensively using the DSS to pervert the course of justice including flouting with reckless abandon, judicial pronouncements including court orders. As a matter of fact, the SSS (DSS)’s reckless abuse of judicial process and flouting of judicial orders have risen to an apogee. As we write Your Excellencies, the Service is still laying siege on the residence of the former National Security Adviser, Retired Col Sambo Dasuki, despite a subsisting order of the Federal High Court Six, sitting in Abuja, which had on 3rd November 2015 granted him three weeks leave for his overseas medical appointment. The Order was reaffirmed on 13th November 2015 by the Presiding Judge, Hon Justice Adeniyi Ademola; yet the Service still observes same in gross breach.
“Further, the constitutional rights of the Nigerian citizens to life, dignity of human person, personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of expression, movement, peaceful assembly, association and freedom from discrimination have been threatened and trampled upon by the Buhari administration using the DSS in the past 166 days of its presidency. These rights are judicially enshrined in Sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41 and 42 of the Fundamental Human Rights Charter of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Regionally and internationally speaking, these rights are also provided in the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (AU) and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (UN). By Article 1 of the ICCPR (UN), it is further provided that: all peoples shall have the right of self-determination and by virtue of that right they shall freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. By Article 3 of the same ICCPR, the States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. By Article 20 of the ACHPR (AU), ratified and domesticated by Nigeria, all peoples shall have right to existence and they shall have unquestionable and inalienable right to self determination.
“From the foregoing Your Excellencies, it has been empirically established that Nigeria under Buhari’s Presidency has observed in gross breach its constitutional, municipal, regional and international human rights treaties’ obligations. We have also thoroughly searched the 320 Sections of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and its subsidiary laws and there is no provision where President Muhammadu Buhari through his DSS is given power to continue to detain a citizen (Nnamdi Kanu), who was charged to court by the same Buhari’s DSS with the same court at which he was charged granting him bail based on “bailability” of criminal charges preferred against him.
“It is also unheard of in the history of democracy and its constitutionalism in Nigeria that an accused person with misdemeanor charges who was granted a judicial bail and fulfilled all his bail conditions within three days has remained kept behind the DSS bars for a period of 27 days (20th October to 16th Nov). Also saddening is the reckless flouting and rapacious disobedience by the DSS of three court orders (production (twice), bail and transfer) made by the trial Magistrate between October 19 and 28, 2015.
“Our writing Your Excellencies, therefore, is for Your Excellencies to take firm diplomatic, political and bilateral/multilateral notice of continued detention of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in particular and the country’s steady drift into anarchy and dictatorship in general. In the past weeks, mass protests involving millions of citizens of Nigeria including school children, women and the elderly have gripped major cities of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Owerri, Umuahia, Okigwe, Enugu, Asaba, Uyo, Yanagoa, Port Harcourt, Benin and Calabar in South-East and South-South Nigeria as well as dozens of foreign capital cities over the continued detention of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu. In all these, President Muhammadu Buhari and his DSS have kept unholy sealed lips; in reminiscence of State of terror during his military days of 1984 to 1985.
“Arresting and detaining citizens outside judicial process and pronouncements are the greatest threat to democracy and rule of law in Nigeria and a clear return of State terrorism in the country. This trend, if unchecked, will not only lead to lawlessness, but will also compound the country’s fragile contraption and further undermine and threaten its fragile Statehood. The inability and unwillingness of the Buhari administration to frontally address these landmines may most undermine the legitimacy of governmental powers and authority; which can be a recipe for civil disobedience and collapse of traditional State power and legitimacy.
“We, therefore, call on Your Excellencies to bring Your Excellencies’ political, economic and diplomatic influences, interests and pressures upon President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration. He must be told in an unmistakable language to release with immediate effect and unconditionally Citizen Nnamdi Kanu as well as dropping all charges against him. President Buhari should also be advised to drastically change his highly divisive governing styles above highlighted and save the country from possible eruption into another round of civil disturbances and violence of intractable proportions; propelled by his administration’s steady promotion, aiding and abetting of triggers of social fragmentation and divided society. When a State takes recourse to reckless and naked application and use of State coercive power, its traditional power and authority monopoly instantly becomes threatened and endangered.”
•Photo shows President Buhari.
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