Pelumi Olajengbesi, a human rights lawyer based in Abuja, has raised concerns about the Department of State Services (DSS) and its continuous detention of AbdulRasheed Bawa, the suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Olajengbesi, who is a civil rights lawyer and managing partner at Law Corridor, released a statement on Tuesday expressing his view that the extended detention of Bawa by the secret police is both illegal and a disgrace to the nation’s justice system.
On June 14, 2023, President Bola Tinubu suspended Bawa from his position as the head of the anti-corruption agency due to allegations of misconduct. The suspension was intended to allow for a proper investigation into Bawa’s actions during his tenure. On the same day, Bawa was interrogated at the DSS headquarters, and since then, there have been no updates on the matter for the past three weeks.
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In light of this situation, Olajengbesi maintained that the DSS should either bring formal charges against Bawa for the alleged offenses related to his role as EFCC boss or promptly release him so that he can reunite with his family members.
“When Bawa was suspended and detained, I joined other well-meaning Nigerians to hail the move by President Bola Tinubu because the EFCC under Bawa violated fundamental human rights through reckless midnight Gestapo raids on hotels and homes of innocent citizens.
“However, illegality should not beget another illegality. Without any contradiction, the continued detention of Bawa by the secret police for three straight weeks now is unconstitutional and a breach of the fundamental rights of the detainee.
“Illegality cannot beget another illegality. The DSS should immediately release Bawa to rejoin his family members or without further delays, or charge him to court to face charges preferred against him by the Federal Government. Anything outside these two options is alien to law and won’t stand,” Olajengbesi said.