By Jude Ndukwe
In the wake of what we described as the simultaneous invasion of the homes of Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA) in Abuja and Sokoto Gestapo-style by men of the Department for State Security (DSS), this writer wrote an essay titled “Dasuki: Are We Back to the Dark Ages?” which appeared in ThisDay newspaper of 25th July, 2015, wherein the writer expressed fears that the operations of the DSS against individuals possibly classified as political enemies of government was leading us back to the dark ages of citizens’ brutalisation, disrespect for citizens’ rights, flagrant disregard for our courts and the rule of law.
Fast forward to today, rather than prove that notion wrong, the DSS has gone ahead to confirm the fears of Nigerians that they have made themselves an easily available tool in the hands of government for the hunting down of those marked as “State enemies”.
Having charged Dasuki to court, the DSS embarked on frivolities and strange manifestation of its true intentions when it opposed the bail bid of the former NSA while also requesting for a secret trial for the retired colonel. One wonders why such a trial at a time we are deepening our democracy and advancing towards greater civility, a supposed responsible security agency is asking for a secret trial for one of its senior and respected citizens just to achieve their premeditated goal of hamstringing the judiciary and probably harass and threaten the judges to do their bidding away from the glare of civilisation.
It is a case of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms. One wonders why this case which is bailable should warrant a request for secret trial if not that the DSS have a sinister motive of possibly extracting judgement in their favour. Their excuse among others that they wish to conceal the identity of their witnesses against Dasuki is spurious. Those who are ready to testify against the former NSA should do so without fear or favour if they know that the testimonies they would be bringing before the court are true and not procured; after all, Dasuki is no more in power and is as harmless as he has ever been. If not for his demeanour, goodwill and restraint while in power, there were genuine reasons why he should have moved against those who have ungratefully turned themselves to his traducers today. So, there is no reason for anybody to be afraid to testify openly against him. If he was harmless while in power except to carry out his duties as NSA, what harm can he possibly do to anyone now that he is no longer in power? On this score, the argument of the DSS betrays their true intentions towards the man. Let us leave that at that!
More disturbing is the flagrant disobedience of the court order which granted Dasuki leave to seek medical treatment abroad for which the court asked that his passport be released as according to the judge “a citizen’s health is very paramount in any trial case and before the law”. Justice Adeniyi Ademola also used that opportunity to remind the DSS that a person is assumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court.
It is in light of the above that one is left to wonder if the DSS is still basking in the demonic euphoria of a military dictatorship where the orders of courts are flagrantly disobeyed and judges humiliated to the detriment of harmless and helpless citizens with greater injury done to the fabric of society.
Armed with his court permission to travel abroad for medical treatment, Dasuki attempted twice to travel out but was turned back at the airport by security agencies who obviously were acting on “orders from above”. He went back home and was greeted with a band of security men from the State Service who invited him to answer some charges in their office.
Having been granted bail and permission to travel by the courts, a trip which was callously aborted by the DSS, Dasuki rightly refused to honour any other invitation by the security outfit as that would amount to acquiescing to contempt of court. The strenuous efforts made by the DSS to explain that the invitation extended to Dasuki was not related to the one for which the judge granted him bail was not only puerile, but was also jejune, facile and smacks of executive recklessness as being perpetrated by this administration. Like the judge reminded the DSS during his address to both parties, the affidavit filed before the court by the prosecution indicated that investigations on the matter had been concluded and that they were ready for trial.
This goes a long way to show that the DSS were only interested in embarking on a fruitless journey of frustrating and scuttling the path of justice for Dasuki as the purported new investigation was only an after-thought to serve the sinister motive of denying him adequate healthcare and have him killed by instalments. Should anything untoward happen to Dasuki, Nigerians know who to hold responsible, and that would spell catastrophe for the young administration of Buhari.
Since the last judgement granting Dasuki leave to seek medical treatment abroad for just three weeks and return his passport to the courts within 72 hours of his return, the DSS have not only invaded the house of Dasuki, they have laid siege to his house and effectively put him under house arrest thereby further violating his fundamental rights as guaranteed by our constitution.
We raise the alarm now because the actions of the DSS portend danger for us all and spell doom for our democracy. It is Dasuki today, it could be anyone else tomorrow. Impunity against anyone is impunity against everyone. One wonders why our ever vibrant human rights communities have suddenly gone quiet in the face of this brazen disregard for rule of law and violation of the rights of a citizen by an agency of government. It is difficult to think that they have either been threatened into submission or they have compromised their objectives. If not why the deafening silence despite the myriad of abuses of citizens’ rights by security agencies particularly the DSS? The international community should also take note of what is happening in Nigeria today. The democracy they helped to build and nurture is gradually caving in right before their very eyes.
As Nigerians, we must not allow anyone no matter how powerful or highly connected, to derail our hard-earned democracy. We must not allow anyone to drag us back to the unpleasant days of the dark days of dictatorship. The time to speak out is now. Court orders must be obeyed, citizens’ rights must be respected and our democracy must be protected.
Ndukwe lives in Abuja