- Human right activist, Femi Falana, has written the DSS
- In his letter, he demanded the names of citizens held illegally by the security agency
- He threatened to take legal action if his demand is not met
Femi Falana, a human activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has written to the acting- director of Department of State Services (DSS), Mattew Seiyefa, demanding the names of the 294 Nigerians who are reportedly held illegally in the detention of the security agency.
In the letter dated Tuesday, September 11, The Punch reports that Falana who thanked the boss of the agency for honouring his earlier request to free people who were in the detention of the agency for over two years without trial, tabled his demand under the freedom of information act.
He also threatened to take a legal action against the agency if his demand is not looked into.
NAIJ.com gathers that Falana accused DSS of putting Nigerians in dehumanising and degrading conditions in the underground cells situated in the agency's headquarters in Abuja.
He said: "My letter dated August 20, 2018 requesting for the immediate release of hundreds of persons held incommunicado in the custody of the state security service refers. I thank you for acceding to my request by releasing some of the persons who had been detained for over two years without trial."
"However, I have confirmed from the detainees who have just regained their freedom that no fewer than 294 others are still being held in dehumanising and degrading conditions in the underground cells located in the headquarters of the state security service in Abuja."
“As no person can be legally detained beyond 48 hours without a court order in any part of Nigeria under the current democratic dispensation, you will agree with me that the detention of the 294 persons in the custody of the state security service for over two years is the height of official impunity as it constitutes a gross infringement of their fundamental right to personal liberty guaranteed by Section 35 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ratification and enforcement) Act (cap A9) Llws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
Establishing his commitment to pursue the case beyond a mere letter writing engagement, Falana also told the DSS that he has sought the hands of judiciary to press the case further.
He added: "In order to put an end to such prolonged detention of citizens without trial, I have requested the chief judge of the Federal High Court to designate judges to conduct a monthly visitation of the detention facilities of the state security service and other law enforcement agencies in line with the provisions of section 34 of the administration of criminal justice act, 2015."
"However, in exercise of my right under the freedom of information act, I hereby request you to avail me of the names of the 294 detainees and the particulars of the criminal offences allegedly committed by each of them. In case any of the detainees has been charged with any offence in any court of law you are also requested to supply the details of the cases and the trial courts."
“Take notice that as this request is made under the freedom of information act, you are obligated to supply the required information not later than seven days with effect from the date of the receipt of this letter.”
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Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that the DSS was accused by a youth group in the Niger Delta region identified as the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), of arbitrary arrest and detention of several youths from the area.
This was stated by the group on Sunday, July 29, following the arraignment of a journalist from the area who had been held for more than two years by the DSS. The group said the 50-year-old journalist, Jones Abiri, accused of militancy, was kept incommunicado in a secret detention by the DSS since 2016.
Families of detained suspects in DSS custody NAIJ.com TV