A group of human rights lawyers have commenced contempt proceedings against the Director General of the Department of Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, for the alleged disobedience to multiple judgements and orders of the court directing the release of the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, from the agency’s custody.
The lawyers, led by Maxwell Opara and Abdulazeez Tijani, are seeking to commit the DSS boss to prison in line with provisions of the law on violation of lawful order of a competent court.
Forms 48 and 49, which are the notification of consequences of disobedience to a court order and application to commit an alleged contemnor to prison, were filed before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Monday.
They 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 the suit, particularly the DSS 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, DSS still went ahead to arrest and detain Emefiele and had detained him “for well over a month while shopping for evidence.”
Speaking, 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
“Is it not clear enough to Nigerians that the DSS is persecuting Emefiele if after holding him for five 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 DSS 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 said.
Opara urged President Bola Tinubu to immediately relieve Bichi of his appointment as DSS DG 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.