By Paul ObiÂ inÂ Abuja
The Spokesman to former President Ibrahim Babangida, Mr. Kassim Afegbua yesterday said his life was under threat following a statement he issued and authorised by IBB.Â
Â This is as human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Femi Falana said that the Department of Security Services, DSS lacked the power to invite Afegbua since the said statement had not caused any threat to the internal security of the country.Â
Kassim who had earlier submitted himself to the Nigerian Police after the Police declared wanted also honoured the invitation by the Department of State Service (DSS) yesterday in Abuja.
According to him, “in the last six days, I have gone through traumatic experience when I was declared wanted by the Nigeria Police.Â
Â “By the strength of that unprofessional declaration, I was treated like a common criminal and fugitive until I showed up at the Police Headquarters Abuja to physically present myself. Â
“After what the Police termed a no case issue, they were apologetic and I took my leave. In the evening of that day, Wednesday 7th February, 2018, I got a phone call inviting me to the Headquarters of the Directorate of State Security (DSS). Â
“I honoured the invitation on Thursday and spent seven hours waiting for attention. I left the office at 6.50pm when it became clear nobody was ready to tell me what the invitation was meant for. I was informed to report back on Friday 9th February, 2018 at 11am. On arrival on Friday, having spent 2 hours, I was attended to by the Director of Operations and two others who interrogated me on the said statement I issued.”
He said: “My interrogation was recorded electronically and was made to write a statement affirming the issued statement, having collected all my personal details; house address, account number, international passport number and other information.Â
“I find this whole episode quite nauseating and utterly condemnable. I cannot rationalise why just a statement would amount to subjecting me to rigorous interrogation especially when there was no complainant. Â
“The action of the Nigeria Police coupled with that of the State Security Service is at best that of a meddlesome interloper and sheer bullying, leaving serious developmental issues to chasing shadows with a view to intimidate, harass and embarrass me.Â
“Let me state at this point that my life is in danger as we speak. I have been receiving series of unknown phone calls from people threatening me and my family. Â
“But I am resolute in the true spirit of a free born, that threats, intimidation, harassment and psychological torturing has never and will not stop me from exercising my right of free speech as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; as well as carryingÂ out my professionalÂ responsibility. Â
“I will not submit to intimidation, harassment and threats. Certainly not. I have just a life to live and no one under God will live forever.Â
“Let me use this opportunity to thank my principal, General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR and members of his family who were constantly in touch with me to share in my tribulations.Â
General Ibrahim Babangida’s words of encouragement and assurances further bolstered my resolve to soldier on.Â
“I am eternally grateful to Nigerians especially the Media for their solidarity, support and espirit de corps. Words are not enough to convey my deep and profound gratitude.Â
“My thanks also go to my very adorable and supportive wife who stood by me throughout the whole process without betraying any sentiments. And to members of my larger Afegbua family, my reliable friends, associates and compatriots, I record my thanks and appreciation in million ways.Â
“And to my very dependable and reliable lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo and other lawyers who offered their voices to prosecute this case, I am eternally grateful. To take a Kayode Ajulo out on a stressful five days legal engagement without collecting a dime,Â is to me, the height of humanity.Â
“I am not only touched but humbled by this show of support and uncommon generosity. And my good friend, Emmanuel Ajibulu, such an efficient, and proactive media networker, I cannot thank you enough.”
He further stated the “experience to me is an eye opener in so many ways. I feel a sense of personal gratitude to several of Nigeria’s foremost legal luminaries who maintained a constant touch and gave useful legal advice throughout the period of this travail.Â
“I am most humbled. And the Almighty Allah will meet all of you in your hour of need. On a lighter note, the support, accolades and motivation I received during this period have given me added confidence to seek elective public office in no distant future”,Â he observed.Â
Falana said the DSS invitation apparently arose fromÂ the department not being satisfied with the way the police handled Afegbua by deciding not to press charges.
“But apparently dissatisfied with theÂ handling of the matter by the Police the Director-General of the State Security Service, Mr. Lawal Musa Daura was reported to have summoned Mr. Afegbua to his office for interrogation over the same controversial press statement. The Police had claimed that Mr. Afegbua had defamed General Babangida. If the retired General was defamed in the publicationÂ he has the liberty to seek redress in a high court. But the State Security Service has no power to convert the allegedÂ civil wrong of defamationÂ to a criminal offence to warrant the harassment of Mr. Afegbua.
â€œSince the alleged denial of the press statement by General Babangida has not caused any threat to the internal security of the country the invitation by the State Security Service constitutes a gross abuse of powers.Â In the case of theÂ Director of State Security Service & Anor. v Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 3 NWLR (Pt 595) 314 the Supreme Court held that the power of the State Security Service is strictly limited to the prevention and detention of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria as stipulated by section 2 of the National Security Agencies Act. Mr. Daura should therefore be restrained by President Buhari from subjecting Mr. Afegbua to any form of interrogation and thereby violating hisÂ fundamental rights to personal liberty and fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitutionâ€, he concluded.