Human Rights organizations working for improved access to judicial system have condemned the unlawful detention of Emepror Ogbonna by the Department of States Security Services, DSS.
The groups; Citizens’ Gavel, SERAP, Paradigm Initiatives, Civic Media Lab and Connected Development, CODE condemned the actions of the DSS in a press statement signed by Taiwo Makanjuola, Communications Associate, Citizens’ Gavel.
The groups noted that the action of the DSS is a major slap on the face of the rule of law and the powers of the court.
In the statement, the groups recounted that, “Emperor Ogbonna who was arrested by law enforcement officers on May 24th was charged with offenses related and punishable under the Cyber Crime Act 2015. This rested on a Facebook post by the Defendant which was said to be allegedly critical of the Abia state government.
“The Defendant was remanded in prison pending the issuance of the DPP’s advice. His lawyers, however, filed the relevant application for bail which was granted despite vehement oppositions.
“Upon the perfection of Mr. Ogbonna’s bail process, a discreet message was sent to the prison for his release but alas the officials of the Department of State Security got wind of it and came to re-arrest Barr Ogbonna.”
However, Mr. Ogbonna was re-arrested on the 28th April 2020 but was immediately released on bail. He was taken to the offices of the DSS and has not been seen since.
“Till date, Mr. Ogbonna has not been charged to court on any new charge and his existing bail has been rudely impeded by officials of the DSS. It also became public knowledge that Emperor Ogbonna was discreetly moved to Abuja by the DSS after a long period of stalling his defense team’s request for his immediate release.
“On the 29th day of June 2020, the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State in a ruling ordered the immediate release or arraignment of Mr. Emperor Ogbonna from the custody of the DSS. The court also restrained the DSS from re-arresting him. The court further awarded the sum of N1,500,000.00 against the DSS as damages.”
Citizen Gavel disclosed that after it wrote to the DSS to obey the court order which has ordered the release of Mr Ogbonna, the DSS continued to detain the defendant.
“Gavel on the 6th day of July wrote to the DSS on the need to obey the order of the court for the immediate release of Mr. Ogbonna as he was still being detained despite the order of the court.
“However, to our dismay, information got to us that the DSS has declared that they do not recognize the judgment of a Federal High Court and thus they will continue to hold him in detention.
“We wish to state at this point that the actions and inactions of the DSS is a major slap on the face of the rule of law and the powers of the court. It also amounts to a continuous and gross breach of Mr. Ogbonna’s right to liberty which is protected and guaranteed under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“Gavel, SERAP, Paradigm Initiatives, Civic Media Lab, CODE and Civic Hive use this medium to call all stakeholders in the justice sector of this nation, Civil Societies and Liberty organizations, International bodies like the African Union, ECOWAS, the European Union, etc and other well-meaning Nigerians to rise to against this tide of illegality and utter disrespect for the rule of law by the DSS.
“We cannot fold our arms and continue to condone this show of shame where the orders of the court are practically worthless and ineffective. It is a steaming volcano waiting to explode and plunge us all into anarchy. We have to resist this. We have to collectively uphold the dignity and sanctity of our courts of law and its orders.”