The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has demanded the immediate release of 26 of its members it said are being detained by the State Security Services (SSS).
ABSON’s lawyer, Rilwan Idris, who made the call at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the SSS operatives had arrested and detained the BDC operators without charging them to court, in what he described as a breach of their “fundamental human rights”.
He said SSS had been holding his clients after inviting them from Kano, Yola, Sokoto, Minna and Lagos for questioning over two weeks ago.
He added that the 26 detainees had not been allowed access to their families, and that letters of inquiry about the offences they were being detained for were ignored by the agency.
Mr Idris said, “the law empowers security agencies to investigate offences where an individual may be found wanting. It also provides for the way and manner such investigation should be carried out and conducted within the ambit of the law.
“After they were invited and detained, we wrote a letter to the SSS on March 22, demanding the release of all 26 members invited for questioning and we did a follow-up to know about their offences, but we were told to come back.
“None of their family members has had access to them. We have been further informed by the family members that some of the arrested individuals have underlying health challenges which require regular medical attention which they have not had access to since the dates of their arrests and detention.
“We know as a fact that none of our clients who have been arrested by the SSS has been charged to court for any offence neither have the people and family members who have inquired about them been informed if they have been or will be charged to court for any offence known to law.
Threat to sue
The lawyer also said a legal action might be taken on behalf of the detainee if the agency continued to hold them.
“At this juncture, it is important to state unequivocally that the continued detention of our clients without arraigning them before a court of competent jurisdiction for an offence known to law is a clear breach and violation of their fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We, therefore, advise that they be promptly released forthwith as the fact of their detention this long is in itself already actionable.”
Efforts to reach Peter Afunaya, SSS spokesperson, for comments were unsuccessful, as he did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his telephone number.
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