Human rights lawyer and activist Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday threw his weight behind the Department of State Service’s (DSS) invasion of the residences of the former National Security Adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in Abuja and Sokoto last week.
Citing Section 146 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, he said the residence of any citizen can be searched with a warrant duly signed by a judge, magistrate or justice of the peace.
“Section 149 thereof imposes a duty on any person residing in any building which is liable to be searched to allow ‘free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search’,” he added.
He said since the DSS confirmed that the search was conducted in strict compliance with a search warrant duly endorsed by a magistrate, “it is pertinent to point out that the law requires the owner or occupier of any house or apartment to allow a search once a search warrant signed by the appropriate authority is produced by law enforcement personnel”.
According to Falana, “Without any legal basis whatsoever, Col. Dasuki breached the law when he refused to allow the SSS officials free and unhindered access to his residence for several hours last Thursday.
“Contrary to the misleading information circulated in the media by the former NSA, his house was not illegally raided but lawfully searched pursuant to a warrant issued by a magistrate.
“Since we operate a neo-colonial legal system which confers special privileges on people of influence, Col. Dasuki was treated with dignity in the circumstance.
“In other words, the DSS personnel would have executed the warrant, rather forcefully, if the search involved the home of an ‘ordinary’ citizen.
“Indeed, the special status extended to members of the ruling class has also been demonstrated in the decision of the DSS to place the retired Colonel under ‘house arrest’ in a country where the flotsam and the jetsam are regularly railroaded to jail even when they are not associated with any incriminating evidence!”
However, with respect to the seizure of Dasuki’s passport, Falana reminded the DSS of the case between the Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba in 1995, wherein the Supreme Court held that the passport of a Nigerian citizen could not be seized without due process.
He recalled that the seizure of the passport of Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the current Emir of Kano) by the DSS under the Goodluck Jonathan administration was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Federal High Court.
“In addition to the order for the immediate release of the passport, the court awarded N50 million reparation to the then embattled Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Therefore, the SSS should return the passport of Col. Dasuki to him forthwith unless its seizure has been authorised by a court of law,” Falana said.
Similarly, a lawyer and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, has stated that the search conducted on the residences of Dasuki by men of the DSS was lawful and very much in order.
Obono-Obla, a close associate of Buhari, said so long as the DSS obtained a valid search warrant from the court, its action in line with the court order was valid.
In a press statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, Obono-Obla said: “I submit that the search warrant executed by the Department of State Service (DSS) on the residences of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in both Abuja and Sokoto, respectively, was lawful, constitutional and unimpeachable.
“The search warrant was issued by a Chief Magistrate of the judiciary of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, upon an application by the Department of State Service.”
In order to substantiate his stance, Obono-Obla drew from legal precedents, stating: “In the celebrated case of Wuraola Kuku vs. Fatumo Olushoga (1962) FSC 211, ONYEAMA, Ag. F.J illuminated on the law concerning search warrant thus:
“Section 107(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act empowers a magistrate to issue a search warrant which may include an authority ‘to apprehend the occupier of the house or place where the thing was found’.”
Obono-Obla said he disagreed with the reactions of those he described as supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan who have criticised the action of the DSS.
Obono-Obla said: “It stands to reason that the vociferous protestation made on the social media by Jonathanians that the search of the premises of Colonel Dasuki was illegal and wrongful is hogwash, balderdash and hollow.
“Colonel Dasuki must account for the billions of dollars that was voted and appropriated during the Jonathan presidency for the purchase of weaponry to fight the mindless, godless and satanic Boko Haram terrorists.
“Why do Jonathanians think that because Colonel Dasuki was a former National Security Adviser and a Prince of the Sokoto Caliphate, he is above the law and should not be brought to account for money given to the Office of National Security Adviser to purchase weaponry to fight terrorism and other crimes that threaten the corporate integrity of the country?
“It is well settled that nobody is above the law. Everybody is equal before the law. The law is totally blind to the status of any person that incurs its wrath.
“The law is no respecter of principalities, powerful individuals, etc. Was a powerful former Head of State not jailed in this country and heavens did not fall?”
Obono-Obla said the search of Dasuki’s homes by the DSS was not indicative that Buhari’s regime was dictatorial, as alleged by the camp of the opposition party, stressing that those who searched others under the administration of Jonathan should be prepared to account for their stewardship.
“The sentiments expressed by couriers’ of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Jonathan’s regime that by the search of Colonel Dasuki’s residences by the DSS, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was being vindictive and was on a witch-hunt of officials that served in Jonathan’s regime is nothing but cheap blackmail and therefore poppy cock.
“All members of the officialdom that served in Jonathan’s regime must readily make themselves available for investigation or account for their stewardship,” Obono-Obla said.