Surprisingly, seven days after his family denied the rumours that he was dead, some people are still calling to confirm the true story on the plight of Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).
Early in the morning of February 23, 2019, when Nigerians go to the poll for Presidential and National Assembly Elections, I received several calls and messages from mostly Editors trying to confirm a rumour on purported death in security custody of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki has been in the custody for more than three years despite being granted bails by more than five high courts while the ECOWAS Court of Justice also ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to release him immediately from illegal detention.
He had recently berated the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari over his continued detention and disobedience to various court orders that admitted him on bails since December 2015. In a strongly worded letter dated November 12, 2018, which he personally signed and addressed to the Registrar of the Federal High Court Abuja, Dasuki had vowed to boycott any proceeding for his trial since the Federal Government had proved beyond reasonable doubt that it would not obey any order of the court even if it is in his favour.
Alarmed by some audios being spread on the social media on the rumoured death of the spymaster on the election day, I quickly called his family members including his wife and sibling for enquiry.
They expressed similar shock and that they had even received condolence messages from people on the same speculation. One of the family members also told me of their visit to Sambo Dasuki the previous night at the Department of Security Services (DSS) where he is being detained.
I put a call to the spokesperson of DSS, Mr. Peter Afunanya who told me that the ex-NSA is alive.
I was later granted approval to visit the ex-NSA that morning for confirmation.
On arrival at the DSS reception, I was a bit worried seeing a media crew from the government-owned Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), led by Talatu Ezurike at the premises of the secret service.
We were later ushered into the office of DSS spokesperson who described the news of Dasuki’s demise as fake, callous and inciting, saying: “There is no iota of truth or credibility about the rumoured death of Col. Sambo Dasuki. We make bold to state that the former NSA is very much in good health and not dead. Therefore, it behooves the general public to disbelief and condemns the atrocious online story that Dasuki has died in DSS’ custody.”
He later led us (this writer and NTA Crew) to meet the former National Security Adviser in a modest room, that looks like an office.
With a cup of tea before him, Dasuki looked relaxed and unperturbed as he welcomed us. He cracked jokes on his rumoured death.
When he noticed a Camera from NTA crew, he quickly warned against video recording of the encounter. He also said he would not grant an interview to the Television station, even though he cheerfully exchanged pleasantries and threw banters.
We chatted for a while as he expressed himself freely and courageously on how he felt about being unjustly detained after sacrifices to his fatherland.
Before we left, I suggested he should allow his photograph to be taken while he was sitting. He reluctantly agreed.
I pray that sooner than later he would be vindicated and freed from the baseless and malicious allegations against him.
We left afterward.
Since I have an agreement with DSS Spokesperson not to report our discussion, I can only confirm that Sambo Dasuki is alive, hale and hearty when we met him on that Saturday, February 23, 2019.
By Yushau A. Shuaib
Author, An Encounter with the Spymaster