The Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Bamidele Aturu, has demanded the release of National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, Dr. Emmanuel Fashakin, by the State Security Service, SSS.
In a statement on Friday, the group demanded Mr Fashakin’s release ‘not later than twenty-four hours after receiving this correspondence in accordance with his undoubted rights under both Nigerian and international law.’
Find the full statement below:
RE: INDEFENSIBLE HARASSMENT, ARREST AND DETENTION OF DR. EMMANUEL FASHAKIN BY OPERATIVES OF THE STATE SECURITY SERVICE
We are solicitors to Dr. Emmanuel Fashakin, (hereinafter referred to as ‘our client’) on whose behalf and instructions we write this letter.
We have been informed that our client, a Nigerian citizen, Medical Doctor and Attorney, who resides and practices the two professions in the United States of America, on Friday, the 29th of November, 2013 shortly after disembarking from the Arik Airlines aircraft that brought him from New York City to Lagos at about 5.30 am and while going through immigration formalities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at Ikeja was asked to step aside as according to the immigration official that attended to him there was a ‘tab’ on his passport, whatever that meant. He obliged only to be told by an operative of the State Security Service that he would have to be interrogated for an undisclosed offence. This incident took place about 5.40am. Since then and up till the time of writing, our client has been detained at the airport without any interrogation whatsoever as the official allegedly detailed to carry out the assignment had not been seen.
It is clearly indefensible to subject a person who had been
on an eleven hour non-stop flight to the physical and psychological stress of detention which cause is not divulged for hours. Without doubt, the act of the operatives constitutes an unwarranted violation of the right of our client to respect for the dignity of his person and not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment as guaranteed by section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, Articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and all other International Human Rights Instruments.
Since no reason has been advanced for the detention of our client, we want to believe that it has nothing to do with his well-known expression on the internet of opinions about how to advance democracy in Nigeria and ensure that our people are rescued from the abyss of inexplicable poverty occasioned by greed and graft. Whatever may be the case, we would like to make it clear the arrest and detention of our client is unacceptable and that we shall implacably seek all possible and known legal remedies on his behalf.
We are worried that arrest of dissentient and principled voices is now becoming the order of the day even in a dispensation that claims to be democratic. It is important that we emphasise that preventive detention has no place in a liberal democratic society. Indeed, it is unconscionable and represents an intolerable reversal of the gains that our people have made in our unstoppable march from military despotism to a free society.
As officers in the temple of justice it is our bounden duty to put it beyond any peradventure that our client is entitled to be treated with all the dignities guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria including but not limited to reasonable access to his lawyers, family members and doctors.
In the circumstances, it is our instruction to demand, and we hereby so do, that you cause our client to be released forthwith, howbeit, not later than twenty-four hours after receiving this correspondence in accordance with his undoubted rights under both Nigerian and international law.
We need to stress clearly that the power or duty of the Service and other security agencies to combat crimes is not under challenge or in question. Nevertheless, crimes cannot be fought outside the dictates of the rule of law and all known and time-honoured principles of legality. There can be no room for politically motivated arrests and detention based on one’s opinions and worldview. That is only possible in totalitarian states, which Nigeria clearly is not and the descent into which we shall resist vehemently.
TAKE NOTICE that if our demands are not acceded to we shall be compelled to take all lawful and necessary steps to ensure that the rights of our client are protected. Specifically, we shall be compelled to approach a court of competent jurisdiction to seek redress. It is our avowed conviction that every agency of the State must act within and under the law at all times, regardless of the temptations, nay, provocation. Our firm is committed to seeing to that with unflinching commitment and vehemence.
We have no doubt that you will accede to this very friendly request urgently.
Accept the renewed assurance of our very high regards.