Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has asked Mathew Seiyefa, acting director-general of the Department of State Service (DSS), to release the names of 294 detainees in custody of the service.
In a letter to Seiyefa on Tuesday, the lawyer accused the DSS of impunity, saying the detention of the suspects for over two years amounts to infringement of their fundamental human right.
The letter reads in part: “I thank you for acceding to my request by releasing some of the persons who had been detained for over two years without trial. However, I have confirmed from the detainees who have just regained their freedom that not less than 294 others are still being held in dehumanising and degrading conditions in the underground cells located in the headquarters of the State Security Service at Abuja.
“As no person can be legally detained beyond 48 hours without a court order in any part of Nigeria under the current democratic dispensation you will agree with me that the detention of the 294 persons in the custody of the State Security Service for over two years is the height of official impunity as it constitutes a gross infringement of their fundamental right to personal liberty guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“In order to put an end to such prolonged detention of citizens without trial I have requested the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to designate Judges to conduct a monthly visitation of the detention facilities of the State Security Service and other law enforcement agencies in line with the provisions of section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
“However, in exercise of my right under the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request you to avail me of the names of the 294 detainees and and the particulars of the criminal offences allegedly committed by each of them.
“In case any of the detainees has been charged with any offence in any court of law you are also requested to supply the details of the cases and the trial courts.”
Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser, and Ibrahim Zakzaky, are among the suspects in DSS custody.