Peter Afunanya, a public relations officer at the Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja has released a shocking statement explaining why prominent Nigerians are being illegally detained despite court orders.
He said most of those being detained are happy being there and have access to the gym, TV and newspapers.
Amongst those being detained are prominent Nigerian journalist and New York-based publisher Omoyele Sowore.
His publication alleged on Thursday that officials were planning to kill him in detention after he opposed President Muhammadu Buhari in the last election and raised serious concerns about Nigeria, a country rich with human and mineral resources but with of hunger, poverty and gargantuan corruption.
Other being detained are former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
In its statement, the DSS claimed that Dasuki and Zakazaky have asked the court to keep them in custody.
SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT
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 Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in its facility.
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 Omoleye 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.
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 be looked after by the DSS. The reason for such choice is not farfetched. 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.