Scores of constitutional and human rights lawyers today stormed the Abuja High Court to commence committal proceedings against the Director General of the State Security Service, Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi, for what they termed a violation of multiple judgments and orders of the court directing the release of the suspended Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, from the custody of the agency.
The consortium of lawyers, led by Mr Maxwell Opara and Barrister Ahmed Tijani, have prayed the Court to commit Mr Bichi to prison until he purges himself of contempt.
In their motion filed before the Court for the issuing of Form 48 and Form 49, which are the forms to commence proceedings to commit a contemnor to prison, the lawyers assert that, according to the judgments and orders of Justice M. A. Hassan, Justice Hamza Muazu, and Justice Bello Kawu, the DG DSS ought to have released Mr Godwin Emefiele from detention.
In the affidavit in support of the application, the consortium deposed to the fact that Hon. Justice M. A. Hassan restrained the Respondents in that Suit, particularly the State Security Service, from arresting, detaining, or interrogating Mr Emefiele for offences connected to terrorism financing, money laundering, round-tripping, financial crimes of national security dimension, etc.
They state that despite the clear and positive orders of Justice Hassan, the State Security Service still went ahead to arrest and detain Mr Emefiele and detained him for well over a month while searching for evidence that does not exist.
While addressing journalists after filing their documents at the Court Registry, Mr Maxwell Opara said the group will pursue the matter to its logical conclusion and ensure that Mr Bichi is sent to prison so as to serve as a deterrent to other heads of security agencies and top government officials.
They should understand that contempt of court and gross abuse of their offices for personal vendetta will no longer be tolerated.
Mr Opara also called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to immediately relieve Mr Yusuf Bichi of his appointment as DG SSS for obviously misleading the President that Mr Emefiele had committed heinous crimes against the State, only for him to now file a charge of possession of a validly registered pump-action rifle against Mr Emefiele.
“Is it not clear enough to Nigerians that the SSS is persecuting Mr Emefiele if, after holding him for 5 weeks, they can only file a ridiculous charge of possessing a validly registered pump-action gun?” Mr Opara asked.
He continued, “If possessing a validly registered pump-action gun is a crime worthy of being held in perpetuity, what has the SSS done to the person threatening Nigerians from a particular section of the country with an assault rifle? This clearly shows that the ordeal of Mr Emefiele is more for political reasons than any other.”
He concluded by questioning that assuming there was no valid court order since the DSS had been unable to find any evidence against Mr Emefiele, he was entitled to his release.
Moreover, now that three different courts have ordered his release, the SSS is still holding him in unlawful detention and violating all his rights. Hence, the consortium will ensure that Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi ends up being committed to prison.