Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and activist, has demanded that the Department of State Services (DSS) release Abdulrasheed Bawa, the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), from custody because the remand order on him has since become spent and invalid.
Falana said a remand order issued by a Magistrate Court in the Federal Capital Territory “has become spent, invalid and illegal as no magistrate has the power under section 493 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 or section 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria to authorise the detention of a criminal suspect for 67 days without trial.”
Falana made the claim in a press statement issued on Sunday. He further asked the Federal Government to ensure that the rights of the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele and Bawa are respected by the DSS and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Falana however stated that “the plight of both suspects should be a lesson for all public officers in Nigeria who always behave as if there will be no tomorrow. However, the Government which rules by law is under a legal obligation not to breach the fundamental rights of citizens except in a manner prescribed by the Constitution of Nigeria”.
“Sometime last month, I had cause to demand for the immediate release of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from the custody of the State Security Service,” Falana said.
“In the alternative, I requested the Federal Government to charge the two detained suspects before a court of competent jurisdiction, if there was evidence that they had committed criminal offences.
“It is public knowledge that Mr. Emefiele was recently charged with illegal possession of firearms before the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court. Even though he was granted bail, the State Security Service treated the order of the Court with contempt.
“As the violent invasion of the court coupled with the disobedience of the order of the Court by officials of the State Security Service could not be justified, the Federal Government decided to withdraw the charge of illegal possession of firearms.
“The case was accordingly struck out by the court while Mr. Emefiele was charged with some economic crimes at the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court.
“However, in view of the fact that Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa has not been charged with any criminal offence whatsoever, the State Security Service ought to have released him from custody.
“I am not unaware of the claim that Mr. Bawa is being detained on the basis of a remand order issued by a Magistrate Court in the Federal Capital Territory. It ought to be pointed out that the remand order has become spent, invalid and illegal as no magistrate has the power under section 493 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 or section 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria to authorise the detention of a criminal suspect for 67 days without trial,” he said.
Falana added that under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the cumulative lifespan of a remand order is 56 days and that having exceeded the detention period permitted by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and the Constitution of Nigeria, the State Security Service should be directed to release Mr. Bawa from illegal custody without any further delay.