A group of human rights lawyers have commenced contempt proceedings against the Director General of the State Security Service, Yusuf Bichi, over alleged disobedience to multiple judgments and orders of the court directing the release of the suspended Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, from custody of the agency.
They have filed a contempt charge seeking to commit the DSS chief to prison in line with provisions of the law on violation of lawful order of a competent court.
Form 48, which is the notification of consequences of disobedience to a court order, and Form 49, which seeks to commit an alleged contemnor to prison, were filed before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja on Monday.
The lawyers led by Maxwell Opara and Barrister Abdulazeez Tijani, prayed the court to commit DSS DG to prison until he purges himself of the contempt.
In the affidavit in support of the application, the lawyers deposed to the fact that Justice M. A. Hassan restrained the respondents in that suit, particularly, the State Security Service from arresting, detaining, or interrogating Emefiele for offences connected to Terrorism financing, money laundering, round tripping, financial crimes of national security dimension among others.
They asserted that despite the clear and positive orders of Justice Hassan, the State Security Service still went ahead to arrest and detain Emefiele and had detained him ‘for well over a month while shopping for evidence.”
Speaking about the legal decision, Maxwell Opara said the group will pursue the matter to its logical conclusion to serve as a deterrent to other heads of security agencies and top government officials that contempt of court and gross abuse of offices for personal vendetta will no longer be tolerated
He asked, “Is it not clear enough to Nigerians that the SSS is persecuting Emefiele if after holding him for 5 weeks they can only file a ridiculous charge of possessing a pump action gun?”
“If possessing a validly registered pump action gun is a crime worthy of being held in perpetuity, what has the SSS done to the person threatening Nigerians from a particular section of the country with an assault rifle? This clearly shows the travails of Emefiele are more for political reasons than for any other.”
“Assuming there was no valid court order, since the DSS had been unable to find any evidence against Emefiele, he was entitled to his release and how much more now that three different courts have ordered his release, the SSS is still holding him in unlawful detention and violating all his rights, hence the reason why we will ensure Yusuf Magaji Bichi ends up being committed to prison.”
He urged President Bola Tinubu to immediately relieve Bichi of his appointment as DG SSS for having allegedly misled the President that Emefiele had committed heinous crimes against the State only for him to later file a charge of unlawful possession of firearms.