Sunday Igboho: Nigeria DSS produces only eight detained associates in court

The Nigeria Department of State Services (DSS), on Monday August 2, 2021, produced before a Federal High Court in Abuja, eight of the 12 detained associates of the Yourba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.

Those brought to court were: Amudat Babatunde (aka Lady K),Tajudeen Erinoye, Diekola Ademola Jubril, Abidemi Shittu, Jamiu Noah Oyetunji, Ayobami Donald, Raji Kazeem and Bamidele Sunday.

The eight, according DSS’ lawyer, Idowu Awo are among the 13 persons arrested during the July 1, 2021 raid on Igboho’s Ibadan, Oyo State, residence by operatives of the DSS.

He said one was later released, adding that the agitator, it was learnt, is seeking an order restraining the Federal Government from further blocking his bank accounts.

The request is contained in an order of interim injunction to be moved by his lawyers at an Oyo State High Court.

It was learnt that Igboho actually filed for asylum in the Republic of Benin, a week before he was arrested last month.

A source said the application for asylum may affect his trial.

The lawyer faulted reports that only three of the arrested Igboho’s associate were in DSS’ custody, claiming that the misrepresentation was a media creation.

He also faulted reports that the detainees were not well catered for.

Following the lawyer’s submission, Justice Obiora Egwuatu directed the detainees, who sat at the back of the courtroom, to stand up for proper identification, which they did.

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They all looked unhappy, while some of themlimped when they were being brought into the courtroom

Their lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, who queried the decision by the DSS to hold on to the other four, said his clients were in bad shape when he visited them at the custody.

Olajengbesi urged the court to further order the DSS to produce them, arguing that he suspected that the security agency was hiding something.

He subsequently moved a motion for permission to amend the court documents earlier filed on behalf of the detainees to correct some discrepancies in their names.

Awo did not object to the motion, which Justice Egwuatu granted. The judge noted that there was no need for a new order on the DSS to produce all the detainees (applicants) since such order was earlier made.

The judge adjourned till August 4, 2021, for further hearing, before which Olajengbesi is expected to have filed the amended documents.

In an ex-parte ruling on July 23, 2021, Justice Egwuatu ordered the DSS to produce the 12 detainees in court on July 29, 2021, an order the security agency failed to comply with, prompting the judge to repeat the order for their production on August 2, 2022.

Earlier, DSS’ operatives created a spectacle in their effort to shield the detainees from newsmen.

They prevented newsmen from accessing the courtroom, where the detainees were seated before the commencement of proceedings.

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The operatives seized the smartphone of one of the photo journalists, Genga Olamikan. The DSS operatives held the seized phone for 40 minutes before it was released to him.

The development led to a shouting match, which snowballed into an uproar.

In a statement, Olajengbesi condemned the manner the men of the DSS conducted themselves in court, which he described as “the brutal harassment of journalists and media personnel.”

The statement reads: “I condemn in totality the brutal harassment of journalists and media personnel by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) this morning at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

“Newsmen and reporters, who had exercised their right to press to cover the trial of the abducted associates of Mr. Sunday Igboho were today intimidated, badgered and obstructed from carrying out their assignments in court by aggressive men of the DSS who went further to seize gadgets and other materials belonging to the newsmen.

“Their action stands strongly condemned and is in fact an assault on the hallowed chambers of the Federal High Court.

“The premises of the Federal High Court and indeed any court in the country is open to all Nigerians and professionals and it is simply not the property of the DSS over which they can exert such brutish control.

“By cordoning off the court’s premises from press access and intimidating the newsmen in court away from the spectre of the trial, the DSS erred arrogantly and aggrieved the very sanctity of the courtroom.

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“The lawless action of the DSS, an executive agency, on the premise of the Federal High Court is an affront on the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and this must not be countenanced by inaction by the authorities.

“As a matter of urgency, President Muhammadu Buhari must call his agents to order and the Minister of Justice must equally re-orientate the DSS on the extent and limits of their powers under the law.

“With regards to all items unlawfully and forcefully taken off journalists at gunpoint at the court’s premises today, the DSS have twenty-four (24) within which to produce all in their original working conditions or face immediate legal action.

“Refusal to do so amounts to ‘authority stealing’ if not armed robbery and this will be challenged and remedied with punitive consequences against the DSS.

“While such intimidation and oppressive technique against the Press and innocent participants in court have become the modus operandi of the court, it goes against the very spirit and letters of the Nigerian constitution and other relevant statutes on the matter.

“The DSS are cautioned to refrain from this classless and unlawful path as it negates their very own existence as a creation of the law.”

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