A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has berated the Department of State Services (DSS) over alleged illegal detention of a legal practitioner and rights activist, Mr. Gabriel Emperor Ogbonna, based in Aba, Abia State.
Adegboruwa called for the immediate release of the lawyer in line with a bail granted to him by Federal High Court, Umuahia.
Ogbonna was arrested by a joint team of DSS and police operativces, who accused him of publishing lies against the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu.
He was arraigned before the Federal High Court, Umuahia and admitted to bail, which he had perfected.
However, DSS immediately re-arrested him after he was released from the Correctional Centre on April 28, and transferred to Abuja where he has since been detained.
Adegboruwa described the arrest and transfer of Ogbonna to Abuja as an arrant violation of the order of the court granting him bail.
He added that once the court had intervened by granting bail to a defendant, such an order must be respected and not be subverted through devious means or by subterfuge.
Calling for the respect of the autonomy of the judiciary, Adegboruwa said members of the executive arm of government must willingly submit themselves to the authority of the courts as demanded by the constitution and not seek to denigrate that hallowed institution.
He said: “The President has just signed Executive Order No.10, wherein he granted autonomy to the judiciary. It is thus improper to claim to grant autonomy to the judiciary with one hand and then take it away with another through willful disobedience of court orders.
“The DSS must obey the order of the court granting bail to Mr Ogbonna and if there be any further allegations against him, he should be charged to court immediately in line with the requirement of the constitution. Surely two wrongs cannot make anything right.
“Ogbonna’s attention is needed by his pregnant wife; he also has a precarious medical history, having suffered gunshot wounds from an attempted assassination upon his life in the past.
“With the health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, this is not the time to embark upon indiscriminate arrest and detention of citizens. Indeed, the government only recently directed that the correctional centres be decongested.”