A Civil Society Organization (CSO) , Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has berated the Department of State Services (DSS) over alleged illegal detention of a legal practitioner, Mr. Gabriel Emperor Ogbonna and a journalist, Mr. Kufre Carter.
RULAAC while calling for the immediate release of the lawyer cum rights activist, based in Aba, Abia State and the Akwa Ibom based sport journalist, Carter, also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct DSS to respect court’s orders and Operate within the Rule of Law.
Ogbonna was arrested by a joint team of DSS and police who accused him of publishing lies against the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu but was later granted bail by the Federal High Court, Umuahia after his arraignment .
While Mr Carter, a sports reporter with a local radio station, XL 106.9 FM, Uyo, was arrested by the SSS on April 27 and charged with defamation for “castigating” the Commissioner for Health in Akwa Ibom state, Dominic Ukpong, over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the state, he was also arraigned and granted but not released.
RULAAC in a statement signed by it Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, implored President Buhari to urgently instruct DSS to immediately and unconditionally release the duo detained in its facility of and direct the agency director to stick to the organization’s statutory responsibilities, respect human rights and act in accordance with the due process of the rule of law.
The group stated that DSS must imbibed democratic culture and abide by the rule of law
“The DSS has now established itself as a lawless organisation with an ignoble pattern of engaging in politically- motivated arrest and indefinite detention incommunicado, of government critics, and disobedience to court orders.
” The President must, at this time, intervene and save our democracy from being derailed by the SSS. It’s time for the President to curtail the excesses of the SSS and call its leaders to order.
” It is disturbing how the DSS has abandoned its responsibility of surveillance and intelligence gathering and turned itself into a willing tool in the hands of politician for oppression, injustice and persecution of political opponents and critics and for settling scores.
The DSS has unabashedly made itself available to many state governors and other public office holders who have turned themselves into emperors and elevated themselves above the law, ” the statement read.