Yusuf Magaji Bichi, DG DSS: Agency gives weird reasons for holding Nigerians in illegal detention

The Department of State Services (DSS) gave creepy reasons Friday night why it continues to detain former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki and leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as Shiites, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and Saharareporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, despite court orders.

Dr Peter Afunanya, public relations officer of the secret agency said the detainees chose to be in its custody on their volition, because of the agency’s holding facilities are ‘good’.

He said the the detainees are allowed access to people and use of other facilities like telephones, gymnasium, TV, newspapers and medical facilities.

Dasuki: detained since 2015, DSS has refused to produce him in court

Afunanya rolled out the agency’s defence following public criticisms that it is holding tight to citizens, already granted bail by the law courts.

In the statement titled “Setting the records straight,” Afunanya explained he offered the clarification given the outcry over their alleged illegal detention.

“There has been outcry about alleged illegal detention of some notable persons undergoing trials at the Courts and disobedience to Court Orders by the Service.

“To put the records straight, the Service wishes to advert public attention to the circumstances that warranted the custody of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) and Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in its facility.

Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky: in detention since 2015 December

“For the avoidance of doubt, the duo had appealed to the Courts to be left in the custody of the Service instead of being taken to the Correctional Centres.

“Well meaning Nigerians are equally witnesses to the case of Omoyele Sowore, who, on a similar order of the Court, was to be remanded at the Kuje or Suleja Centre but preferred to be kept at the DSS.

“Everyone, also, saw what eventually played out with El-Zakzaky, when he opted to be returned to the custody of the Service even as the Court had granted him leave to seek medical care in India. These were choices these personalities made on their own volition.

Sowore in DSS detention since August

“Since their stay, the Service has continued to extend the best courtesies to them.

“They are allowed access to people and use of other facilities like telephones, gymnasium, TV, newspapers and medical facilities.

“Among others, their families and trusted persons bring them food of their choices on daily basis. There could not have been better treatments than these.

“Against the wrong perception that the Service held these persons in defiance to Court Orders, it is obvious, by the above explanations, that they rather chose to be looked after by the DSS. The reason for such choice is not far-fetched. It is simply because the Service’s holding facilities are good and within acceptable international standards.

“It is not in the character of the DSS to join issues with persons or groups. Yet, silence should not be golden at a time like this. For its compliance to democratic norms, the Service owes the Nigerian public a duty to explain some of its activities. This is more so that these are oftentimes grossly misunderstood or misrepresented.

“Once again, the Service restates its commitment to a strong partnership with the media and other stakeholders including opinion leaders. It is not averse to criticisms and therefore welcomes constructive engagement from all and sundry.

“It will continue to conduct its operations within the bounds of the law and importantly be guided by that time tested axiom of Usman Dan Fodio that conscience is an open wound and only the truth can heal it.”