Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana(SAN), has asked the Department of State Services to return the international passport it seized from Col. Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser.
According to Falana, the DSS was right in searching the former NSA’s home as it had a valid search warrant, but wrong in seizing his international passport.
Recall that last Thursday, the DSS raided Dasuki’s homes in Abuja and Sokoto, although not without an initial resistance by soldiers guarding the Abuja house. It reportedly took an order from the army headquarters to get the soldiers to stand down.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana said:“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 SSS personnel would have executed the warrant, rather forcefully, if the search involves 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 SSS to place the retired Colonel under ‘house arrest’ in a country where the flotsam and jetsam are regularly railroaded to jail even when they are not associated with any ‘incriminating evidence.’”
Falana added:“As fundamental rights are not absolute they may be breached in accordance with a procedure permitted by the law.
“Hence, by virtue of Section 146 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the residence of any citizen can be searched with a warrant duly signed by a Judge, Magistrate or Justice of 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.’”
At the end of their search, the DSS announced that it recovered 12 new vehicles (including five bullet-proofed vehicles), seven high calibre rifles (high assault weapons, several magazines and military related gears.
“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,” Mr. Falana said.
“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.”
On claims that the SSS also confiscated Mr. Dasuki’s passport after the search, Mr. Falana said that was unconstitutional.
”The SSS ought to be reminded of the case of the Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba (1995) 3 N.W.L.R. (Pt 595) 314, wherein the Supreme Court held that the passport of a Nigerian citizen could not be seized without due process,” he said.
“It would be recalled that the seizure of the passport of Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the current Emir of Kano) by the SSS 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 authorized by a court of law.”