The suspect spent about 13 hours in SSS custody.
The Department of State Security Services has released Emmanuel Fashakin who was arrested at Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos, early on Friday after arriving from the United States of America.
Mr. Fashakin told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone that shortly after he emerged from the SSS detention facility in Ikoyi that his release followed inquiries by officials of the U.S. embassy in Nigeria.
Emmanuel Fashakin is a brother of Rotimi Fashakin, the spokesperson of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, a party founded by former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the SSS informed the U.S. embassy staff that they arrested him in error over what they claimed was a case of mistaken identity.
“They informed the embassy people that it was a case of mistaken identity and they had me released, but while interrogating me, they never said anything like that, they only told me this after they told the embassy staff,” he said.
Mr. Fashakin, who is also an American citizen, stated that his arrest might not be unconnected to a remark he posted on his Facebook page some months ago in which he criticised the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said he never took up arms against the country and had no links with any terrorist group. He said he was just an ordinary citizen showing his anger over how things have become in Nigeria.
“They were only lying when the American embassy called them. Back in the U.S. were I made the so called criticism, we have the fourth amendment rights whereby any American can abuse the president all the time, and nobody will come and arrest you, as long as you are not carrying arms to fight the government.
Mr. Fashakin was released after spending over 13 hours in detention by at the SSS’ offices at the Airport and Ikoyi, Lagos.
The victim’s brother, Rotimi Fashakin, had earlier told PREMIUM TIMES his brother was arrested around 5 a.m. shortly after arriving Nigeria from New York
“I was on my way to pick him up at the Airport when I received a call from him that he had been detained and his passport was taken away,” he said.
Mr. Fashakin, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, also said the arrest and illegal detention of his brother is a sign that the Nigerian government is getting jittery and increasingly repressive.
“They are showing signs of a regime that is on its way out. These type of regimes become repressive when they are dying,” he said.
He said “they did not allow his lawyers to see him, while, we his family members have also not been allowed to see him,”.
Before the release of Mr. Fashakin, his lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, had issued a petition to the director general of the SSS, giving him 24 hours to release Mr. Fashakin.
In the petition, a copy of which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Aturu stated that it is clearly indefensible to subject a person who had been on an eleven hour non-stop flight to the physical and psychological stress of detention which cause is not divulged for hours.
“Without doubt, the act of the operatives constitutes an unwarranted violation of the right of our client to respect for the dignity of his person and not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment as guaranteed by section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, Articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and all other International Human Rights Instruments,” he stated.
The lawyer gave the DG 24 hours to release his client after receiving the correspondence in accordance with Mr. Fashakin’s undoubted rights under both Nigerian and international law.
Mr. Aturu said it is worrisome that arrest of dissidents and principled voices is now becoming the order of the day even in a dispensation that claims to be democratic.
“It is important that we emphasise that preventive detention has no place in a liberal democratic society. Indeed, it is unconscionable and represents an intolerable reversal of the gains that our people have made in our unstoppable march from military despotism to a free society.
“As officers in the temple of justice, it is our bounden duty to put it beyond any peradventure that our client is entitled to be treated with all the dignities guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria including but not limited to reasonable access to his lawyers, family members and doctors,” Mr. Aturu said.