Nigerian Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), said on Sunday the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), needs to apologise to Omoyele Sowore, and a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, for their belated release from unlawful detention.
The human rights lawyer, Femi Falana who’s also Sowore’s lead legal team said this in an open letter addressed to the Minister of Justice, Malami, in response to the minister’s false claim that both Sowore and Dasuki were set free from custody out of mercy and on compassionate grounds.
Malami, was quoted on Friday by his spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu, while speaking to the BBC Hausa and the Hausa Service of the Voice of America, saying that the two Nigerians were not released in response to domestic and international pressure.
The minister said to media, “The only reasons for the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki revolved around our commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders and compassionate grounds.”
In response to the minister’s claim, Femi Falana who is Sowore’s head lawyer, submitted that under the Nigerian constitution, authorities had no justifiable reason to continue to hold a suspect who had been granted bail by the court.
The letter read partly, “We were flabbergasted when you turned round to inform us that you had no power to direct the State Security Service to comply with the order of the Federal High Court for the release Sowore from custody.
“But having belatedly deemed it fit to review your position and advise the Federal Government in line with the tenets of the rule of law you ought to have apologised to both Sowore and Dasuki.
“That is what is expected of you in accordance with Section 32 (6) of the 1999 Constitution. It is not an occasion for grandstanding or arrogant display of power.”
In speaking on the unlawful detention of Sowore and Dasuki and finally claims by Malami that the former detainees were released on mercy Falana said:
“It is submitted, without any fear of contradiction, that under the current human rights regime no authority has the power to detain any person beyond 48 hours in any part of Nigeria without a court order.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the government is not permitted to refuse to comply with the order of bail under the pretext of defending the security of the nation.
“Even under the defunct military dictatorship, detaining authorities were not authorized to incarcerate any person for ‘security reasons’ in defiance of court orders.”
“With profound respect, you have no power to release any detained defendant from custody on compassionate grounds. As you are no doubt aware, only the President and state governors are entitled to exercise the prerogative of mercy or release any convicted person on compassionate grounds by virtue of Section 175 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”