A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has urged the Department of State Services to return the international passport it seized from Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser.
The lawyer, however, said that the DSS (also known as the State Security Service, SSS) was right in searching the former NSA’s home as it had a valid search warrant.
“Contrary to the misleading information circulated in the media by the former NSA, his house was not illegally raided but lawfully searched pursuant to a warrant issued by a Magistrate,” Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said in a statement on Sunday.
“Since we operate a neo-colonial legal system which confers special privileges on people of influence, Col. Dasuki was treated with dignity in the circumstance. In other words, the SSS personnel would have executed the warrant, rather forcefully, if the search involves the home of an ‘ordinary’ citizen.
“Indeed, the special status extended to members of the ruling class has also been demonstrated in the decision of the SSS to place the retired Colonel under ‘house arrest’ in a country where the flotsam and jetsam are regularly railroaded to jail even when they are not associated with any ‘incriminating evidence.'”
Last Thursday, the DSS officials’ attempt to search Mr. Dasuki’s Abuja home was met by a stiff resistance from military orderlies attached to the retired Colonel acting on his orders.
It took the withdrawal of the army officers by the military headquarters before the DSS could enter Mr. Dasuki’s home.
Mr. Falana said that the fundamental rights to personal liberty and privacy of the home of every Nigerian citizen are constitutionally guaranteed.
“As fundamental rights are not absolute they may be breached in accordance with a procedure permitted by the law.
“Hence, by virtue of Section 146 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the residence of any citizen can be searched with a warrant duly signed by a Judge, Magistrate or Justice of Peace.
“Section 149 thereof imposes a duty on any person residing in any building which is liable to be searched to allow ‘free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search.'”
At the end of their search, the DSS announced that it recovered 12 new vehicles (including five bullet-proofed vehicles), seven high calibre rifles (high assault weapons, several magazines and military related gears.
“It is pertinent to point out that the law requires the owner or occupier of any house or apartment to allow a search once a search warrant signed by the appropriate authority is produced by law enforcement personnel,” Mr. Falana said.
“Without any legal basis whatsoever, Col. Dasuki breached the law when he refused to allow the SSS officials ‘free and unhindered access’ to his residence for several hours last Thursday.”
On claims that the SSS also confiscated Mr. Dasuki’s passport after the search, Mr. Falana said that was unconstitutional.
”The SSS ought to be reminded of the case of the Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba (1995) 3 N.W.L.R. (Pt 595) 314, wherein the Supreme Court held that the passport of a Nigerian citizen could not be seized without due process,” he said.
“It would be recalled that the seizure of the passport of Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the current Emir of Kano) by the SSS under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Federal High Court.
“In addition to the order for the immediate release of the passport the court awarded N50 million reparation to the then embattled Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Therefore, the SSS should return the passport of Col. Dasuki to him forthwith unless its seizure has been authorized by a court of law.”