By Luminous Jannamike
A human rights lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), has given the Department of State Services 48 hours to either release the 26 Bureau de Change, BDC, operators in its custody or take them to court.
The senior advocate said this in a letter addressed to the Director-General of DSS, Yusuf Bichi Magaji, in Abuja.
Tarfa added that if the DSS failed to act, he would approach a court and demand for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights.
He said, “The Apex Court of Nigeria has, in a plethora of decided cases, frowned at the continued detention of citizens of this country unlawfully by security agents and their agencies without due recourse to the court and in violation of extent provisions of the Constitution. We, therefore, demand the immediate release of all our clients in your custody. This is without prejudice to the investigation that is being conducted by your establishment with respect to whatever reason they were arrested for.”
Tarfa noted that the 26 detainees – Adamu Ibrahim Naim, Inuwa Talle Danladi, Muhammadu Yahaya, Yahaya Saidu Ibrahim, Muhammad Ali Adam, Said Saidu Abdullahi, Surajo Adam Muhammad, Auwalu Ibrahim Fagge, Nura Tasiu, Muhammad Lawal Sani, Muhammad Abba Lawan, Bashir Ali, Abdullahi Umar Usman, Hassan Idris, Nura Gani, Babangida Ali, Abubakar Yellow, Baba Usaini, Sani Maiwaya, Abdulrahman Kokawa, Garzali Yusuf, Ibrahim Shaking, Auwalu Ali, Munzali Ali, Mallam Abdulazeez, and Auwalu Gambo – who are all members of the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, ABCON, Northwest chapter, were invited from Kano, Sokoto, Yola, Minna and Lagos for questioning by the DSS in Abuja on the 9th, 12th, and 14th of March, 2021; adding that they have been held incommunicado since then.
Tarfa, therefore, described their arrest by the DSS, without any arraignment before a court, as illegal.
He added, “None of their family members have had access to them. Some of the arrested individuals have underlying health challenges which require regular medical attention which they have not accessed to since the dates of their arrests by your establishment.
“At this juncture, it is important to state equivocally that the continued detention of our clients without arraigning them before a Court of Competent jurisdiction for an offense known to law is a clear breach and a violation of their fundamental human rights.”
The lawyer also said by neither charging the detained BDC operators to Court nor releasing them on administrative bail, the DSS violated section 35 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provides that the security agencies may not detain any suspect for longer than 48 hours without a valid court order.