Alex Enumah in Abuja
Contrary to the position of the Department of State Service (DSS) that detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) and others in its custody preferred to be kept in its custody than with Correctional Services, the lead counsel to Dasuki, Ahmed Raji SAN, Monday disclosed that Dasuki was bent on pursuing his release from DSS custody.
Dasuki has been in custody of the DSS since 2015 despite been granted bail by four different courts in the country, including the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He is standing trial on alleged diversion of funds meant to fight insurgency and illegal possession of firearms.
Though he pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been granted bail, but the federal government has refused to release him on bail even after meeting the attached bail conditions.
However, in a statement last week, spokesman of the department, Peter Afunanya told Nigerians that many of those in their custody, including Colonel Dasuki (Rtd.), have opted to remain in their custody, adding that they appealed to the courts to be left in the custody of the Service and not the Correctional Centres.
The reason, according to the agency, is the quality of the holding facilities provided by the DSS, all of which, are purportedly good and within international standards.
But in a swift reaction, Raji SAN who described the DSS position as untrue, specifically as it relates to Dasuki said, “This Statement, as alluring as it sounds, is a contradiction of the events that have taken place since 2015, when charges were first preferred against Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki”, he said.
The senior lawyer, who made Dasuki’s position known in a press statement released to journalists, queried why an individual will choose to remain in custody, contrary to his constitutional and internationally enshrined fundamental human rights, and still continuously, challenge his unlawful detention at both National and International fora?
“It is therefore most incorrect and inaccurate to claim that Col. Dasuki prayed the Court to be kept in DSS facility. This is far from the truth. Perhaps, there is no synergy between the Counsel appearing for the government in Dasuki matters and the DSS hierarchy.
“Consequently, we appeal to all Authorities, and principally – DSS, to comply with the various extant Orders of the Court, by immediately releasing Col. Dasuki. (Rtd.)
Raji in the statement gave account of how Dasuki was arraigned before the various courts and consequently granted bail on all occasions.
“On 3rd November 2015, the Federal High Court – Abuja, after admitting Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.) to bail on self-recognizance, granted him leave to travel abroad for a three-week medical consultation, on account of failing health. As expected of an individual seeking to enjoy the bail terms granted by the Court and the constitutionally protected presumption of innocence in his favour, Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.) attempted to seek the necessary medical attention but Officers of Department of State Service (DSS) laid siege on his house in Asokoro, in brazen defiance of the Order of Court; and thereby deliberately disallowed him from accomplishing the terms of the Order.
“The Federal Government, while confirming the continued detention of Col. Dasuki, explained that such actions were due to the severity of the alleged offences. Excerpts of these events were well stated in several reports of National Dailies of 31st December, 2015.
“In complying with the due process of law, Col. Dasuki filed processes seeking to extend the travel period granted by the Federal High Court and DSS vehemently opposed the application, and continued to barricade Col. Dasuki’s residence.
“Shortly thereafter, two separate Charges were preferred against him at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in Charge No. FCT/CR/42/2015 & Charge No. FCT/CR/43/2015 against Col. Dasuki, while DSS continued to detain him on purported investigation on allegations of money laundering offences.
“Bail was subsequently granted on the charges on December 21, 2015 and December 18, 2015, terms of which were duly complied with.
“Consequently, he was released by the Kuje Prison authorities where he was remanded, but on stepping out of the gate of the Prison, he was seized by the men of DSS and he has been kept by them since”.
Raji stressed that since the re-arrest of Col. Dasuki in December 2015, no further investigation was carried out and no new charges were preferred against him.