DSS silent over alleged arrest of former aviation minister Sirika


• As court dismisses application to hold Emefiele for another 14 days
• Arewa civil rights group condemns assault on judiciary

Department of State Services (DSS) has remained silent over the alleged arrest of former aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.

Messages sent to DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, on veracity of the arrest were not acknowledged.
Sirika was said to have arrived in a Range Rover SUV at DSS headquarters in Abuja for questioning and was grilled for several hours.He reportedly landed in the agency’s net over the recent controversial launch of Nigeria Air.

Acting Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Captain Dapo Olumide, had, later, revealed that the plane unveiled as Nigeria Air was a chartered aircraft from Ethiopian Airlines.

The launch was widely viewed as a scam. The plane that was unveiled was said to be over 10 years old and had been previously operated by Ethiopian and Malawi Airlines.

Meanwhile, continued detention of suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, by DSS suffered a setback, yesterday, as a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Maitama struck out an application to hold him for another 14 days.

The application followed the re-arrest of Emefiele at the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos after Justice Nicholas Oweibo had ordered that he be remanded in a correctional centre, pending the perfection of his bail.

A court, a fortnight ago, had ordered that Emefiele, who had been in DSS custody for more than six weeks, should be released or charged to court within one week.

When the application, marked FCT/HC/M/12105/2023, and filed on Wednesday by the agency came up before the vacation judge, yesterday, DSS told the court that fresh evidence had been uncovered, making the request for the order imperative.

But things took a different turn when the judge questioned Counsel to the DSS, Victor Ejelonu, on the court’s jurisdiction, in view of the provisions of Sections 293 and 296 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which vest exclusive rights to grant detention orders to a Magistrate Court.

With the observation, Ejelonu withdrew the matter.
The presiding judge, Hamza Muazu, nevertheless, struck out the application over lack of jurisdiction and for being an abuse of court process.

This came as members of Arewa Civil Society Organisations (ACSOs) condemned attacks on the judiciary, other individuals and groups by DSS, vowing to occupy the Abuja headquarters of the agency in protest.

The group also sought the collaboration of Amnesty International and National Human Rights Commission to end rights violations by DSS in the country.

In a statement, yesterday, the chairman, Adamu Aminu Musa, said: “Arewa Civil Society Organisations is compelled to mobilise members under its umbrella to come out in their numbers and occupy premises of the Yellow House for a peaceful protest, demanding unconditional resignation of DSS Director General, Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi.”

According to him, “this is in reaction to DSS’ continued attacks on the judiciary by defying several court orders, illegally holding Nigerian citizens in detention, thus, violating their fundamental human rights.”

He added: “We, hereby, give Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi an ultimatum of 48 hours to comply with the court and release all individuals in their facility. You can’t just destroy their lives, that of their families and loved ones because you are heading a security agency.

“Failure to comply will attract a massive and peaceful protest. We will mobilise our youths to stop this dictatorship by Bichi and his operatives, which has ridiculed the country’s judiciary. Bichi must comply with court orders or resign.”


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