Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Department of State Services has released the lawmaker representing Abia South Senatorial District, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, even as a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Binta Nyako, has ordered the DSS to allow Abaribe to have access to his lawyer.
Abaribe’s media aide, Mr. Uchenna Awom, made the announcement in a statement issued on Tuesday night.
Operatives of the DSS had, on Friday, arrested and detained the senator, while his Abuja home was raided same day.
The statement read, “About 6.32pm on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe walked into freedom after five days in the DSS gulag.
“Abaribe, who was granted administrative bail, was released to his lawyers, led by Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN.
“The collective calls and demand for his release have shown the great spirit of Nigerians for justice.”
Nyako made the order following an oral application by Abaribe’s counsel, Ume, seeking the intervention of the court on the plight of his client. Abaribe, who had stood surety for the ‘missing’ leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was yesterday brought to court by operatives of the DSS in relation to the legal issues arising from Kanu’s bail.
Meanwhile, supporter’s of the detained senator representing Abia South at the Senate, protested at the premises of the Federal High Court demanding for his unconditional release.
The lawyer drew the attention of the court to the fact that his client, who was arrested and detained by the DSS since Friday last week, was still being held incommunicado.
Justice Nyako, who declined further action on the oral application, said the matter was not before her.
Ume consequently pleaded with the court to intervene in the matter.
“If he is being detained by the DSS, you know what to do. His arrest and detention has nothing to do with me and I did not make any order for his arrest.
“I am tired of this drama; the DSS is not an extension of my court. Channel your grievance to the appropriate place. You are wasting my time on a matter that does not concern me,” the judge said.
Although the judge declared that she was not going to entertain the matter since the facts of his arrest and detention were not before her, she, however, said it was the constitutional right of anybody who is detained to have access to a lawyer of his or her choice.
The judge said: “I have nothing to do with that matter, however, because it is his fundamental right to get a counsel of his choice, the DSS should allow him to have access to his lawyer.
“You cannot hold him incommunicado. For whatever reason, you have arrested him, allow him access to his counsel,” Justice Nyako ordered.
Abaribe, a Jewish priest, Ben El Shallom, and an accountant, Tochukwu Uchendu, had stood surety for Kanu in the sum of N100 million each.
However, following the disappearance of Kanu and his subsequent failure to attend his trial, the Federal Government, through the prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, applied and secured a court order directing Kanu’s sureties to produce him in court or to show cause while they should not be sent to prison.
However, when the matter was called, counsel representing the sureties informed the court of the existence of applications challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
Ume said they had taken the stance in view of the fact that the court was misled into granting the said order, as it did not comply with the law.
The matter was adjourned to November 14, 2018, for hearing.
Meanwhile, one of the sureties to Kanu, Uchendu, in a motion on notice dated June 25, 2018, filed for an order of court directing the police to arrest and produce Kanu.
Uchendu, through his lawyer, Frank Chude, further asked the court for an order suspending his obligation on the bond until the whereabouts of Kanu are established.
The motion, which was brought pursuant to section 174 (A) and (B), 177 and 179 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 36 of the nation’s constitution, was rooted on four grounds.