60 constitutional and human right lawyers yesterday stormed the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja to commence committal proceedings against the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Yusuf Bichi, for what they described as a violation of multiple judgments and orders of court on the release of suspended chairman of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, from the custody of the agency.
The lawyers led by Mr Maxwell Opara and Ahmed Tijani, prayed the court to commit the DSS DG to prison until he purges himself of the 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 said by the judgments and orders of Justice M. A. Hassan, Justice Hamza Muazu and Justice Bello Kawu, the DG DSS ought to have released Emefiele from detention.
In the affidavit in support of the application, the consortium deposed to the fact that Justice M. A. Hassan restrained the respondents in the suit, particularly, the DSS 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 expressed anger that despite the orders of Justice Hassan, the DSS still went ahead to arrest and detain Mr. Emefiele and has so detained him for well over a month while shopping for ‘a non-existing’ evidence.
Addressing newsmen after filing their processes at the registry of the court, one of the lawyers, 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 deterrence to other heads of security agencies and top government officials who often run in contempt of court and gross abuse of their offices for personal vendetta.
Opara also called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to immediately relieve Mr. Bichi of his appointment as DG DSS for having obviously misled 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 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 the travail of Mr. Emefiele is more for political reasons than for any other.”
He said since the DSS has been unable to find any evidence against Emefiele, he should have been released; talk more of when three different courts have ordered his release.
The lawyers said the secret service is holding Emefiele in unlawful detention and violating all his rights, a reason the consortium will ensure Bichi ends up being committed to prison.