DSS's culture of impunity
DSS operatives harassing a prison official over custody of Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The growing culture of impunity in our justice administration system since the return of democracy in 1999 should worry all well meaning Nigerians, as it is turning to become a direct affront and threat to the sustenance and survival of democracy in the country. How could any democratic government justify the detention of perceived suspects of alleged crimes, especially, politically exposed persons, without taking them to court to determine their culpability or otherwise?

It is inexcusable for a government in a democracy to detain people indefinitely under any guise as in the cases of Godwin Emefiele, former CBN governor, and Abdulrasheed Bawa, former chairman of EFCC, without charging them to court or to insist on keeping them after court has granted them bail. It is a constitutionally guaranteed right that every suspect of crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty, even in violent crimes requiring capital punishment.

It is, therefore, sad that for offences that are not even factually determined but only alleged to elicit such treatment is not only barbaric but inhuman and antidemocratic. In the case of Emefiele, who was accused of involvement in terrorist activities, it was shocking to Nigerians that he was eventually charged for illegal possession of arms, which attracts a mere three months sentence or N200000 fine. How ridiculous can we be?


What began as a personal vendetta by former president Obasanjo against those, ppjhwho framed him up in coup plot, which was intended to eliminate him, namely, Gen. Ishaya Bamiyi, and Hazmat Al Mistapha, Chief of Army staff and Chief Security officer, respectively under the Gen. Abacha regime, through out his tenure, has gradually turned into a way of life for subsequent administrations. Former president Buhari also kept Sambo Dasuki, NSA to Jonathan, and leader of the team of those who arrested in the 1985 coup that ousted him, through out his eight term.


It is clear to even the blind that both Emefiele and Bawa are being persecuted for for any specific crimes but for they represent and we’re perceived to have done during the past regime that threatened the personal and political interest of the president, whose life ambition has been to occupy the office.


Under the rule of law, all citizens, communities, the state and its institutions; the government and its agents are accountable under the law and no one is above the law. The law must be clear to all and must also protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, including the law enforcers, the arbitrators and others operating in the hallowed chambers of the temple of justice. The rule of law is about the supremacy of the law.

It is, therefore, crucial that in every democracy, strong and credible institutions like the courts must be created, well-resourced and independent to adjudicate in legal disputes fairly, pursue the end of justice without fear or favour and prevent abuse by law enforcement officers. It is also imperative that the integrity and aura of the judiciary be respected and protected to enable it discharged its sacred duties effectively and faithfully.

Whilst the law enforcement officers charged with the responsibility of enforcing the law are also expected to discharge their duties effectively to protect citizens and society against harm, they are expected to do so by respecting the fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by the constitution and in accordance with the law. One of the perilous legacy of military rule was that respect for the rule of law, the judiciary and the due process of law, are aberrations l, thus, creating the space for abuse and the culture of impunity.

The treatment of Honourable Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, a newly appointed judge of the Federal High Court Abuja in 2016, the forceful entry into the Abuja home of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili and the recent case of former Central Bank Governor CBN, Governor Godwin Emiefele are troubling reminder that if left unchecked, the secret police, DSS, could overawe the judiciary, imperiled the rule of law, national stability, and undermine democracy.

Although Justice Dimgba’s name was not originally on the list of judges under investigation, which prompted the sting operation, Daura, its boss, ordered the illegal raid before writing a petition to the National Judicial Council NJC, claiming that they had evidence of the alleged bribery; the date and time the bribe was paid. The NJC investigation found that Justice Dimgba was in India for medical treatment on the date and time Daura complained of the bribe. This evidence, saved Justice Dimgba’s career.

When the DSS agents arrested Emiefele, the impression was created that it had to do with financial malfeasance. It became pretty amusing and laughable that DSS could only file charges of illegal possession of firearms by DSS after three weeks of detention and investigation of the former CBN Governor.

But what was not that amusing but a blatant attack on the integrity of the Judiciary and a shameless public attack, and humiliation of Correctional Service officers, who in compliance of a court order granting Emiefele bail and remanded him in the Ikoyi Correctional Service Center, took custody of Emefiele.

This newspaper condemns this act of abuse of power and contempt of court. By reenacting the Justice Dimgba’s scenario, it is clear that disrespect of court orders has become the modus operandi of the DSS. This newspaper is surprised that President removed all the heads of security agencies except Mr. Bichi, the Director of DSS. Why this special consideration?

The Tinubu Administration should act fast to purge the DSS of anti-democratic forces, who are obviously working against the constitution and may retard democratic consolidation. President Tinubu, who has a reputation of fighting and campaigning against military autocracy would ultimately accept responsibility for the perpetuation of the culture of impunity if he does not act fast on this issue.

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