Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Department of State Security (DSS) said yesterday that the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and Convener of the #RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyele Sowore, opted to be remanded in DSS custody.
It said contrary to the belief in many quarters that they were held by DSS against their will, the trio chose the custody of the agency instead of Kuje Prison.
A statement issued by the agency said El-Zakzaky while on a court-ordered medical trip to India voiced his preference for DSS custody as against the accommodation in India.
The statement signed by its Spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said Sowore also expressed his preference for the DSS detention facility.
“There has been outcry about alleged illegal detention of some notable persons undergoing trials at the courts and disobedience to court orders by the service.
“To put the records straight, the service wishes to draw public attention to the circumstances that warranted the custody of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) and Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in its facility,” it said.
DSS said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the duo had appealed to the courts to be left in the custody of the service instead of being taken to the correctional centres.
“Well-meaning Nigerians are equally witnesses to the case of Omoleye Sowore, who, on a similar order of the Court, was to be remanded at the Kuje or Suleja Centre, but preferred to be kept at the DSS.”
The secret police noted that “everyone, also, saw what eventually played out with El-Zakzaky, when he opted to be returned to the custody of the Service even as the court had granted him leave to seek medical care in India.
“These were choices these personalities made on their own volition. Since their stay, the service has continued to extend the best courtesies to them.”
Afunanya said the detainees were allowed access to people and use of other facilities like telephones, gymnasium, TV, newspapers and medical facilities.
He said their families and trusted persons bring them food of their choices on daily basis.
“There could not have been better treatments than these. Against the wrong perception that the service held these persons in defiance to court orders, it is obvious, by the above explanations, that they rather chose be looked after by the DSS.
“The reason for such choice is not farfetched. It is simply because the service’s holding facilities are good and within acceptable international standards.”
Afunanya said the agency remained committed to the tenets of democratic rule. He said DSS would conduct its operations within the bounds of the law.