Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, on Sunday demanded the immediate release of the detained Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, as the remand order for his detention had expired. Falana said the Department of State Services (DSS) no longer has any legal grounds to continue to detain him.
“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 authorize the detention of a criminal suspect for 67 days without trial.”
He added, “Indeed, under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the cumulative lifespan of a remand order is 56 days. Therefore, 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. Abdulrasheed Bawa from illegal custody without any further delay.
“The Federal Government should ensure that the rights of Messrs Emefiele and Bawa are respected by the State Security Service and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice, even though the duo had a penchant for disobeying the orders of the courts when they were in office.
“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.”
Abdulrasheed Bawa was arrested on June 14 2023 by the DSS for alleged financial impropriety, hours after his suspension by President Bola Tinubu, and remained in custody to date
The Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, in a statement on 14 June announcing Bawa’s suspension, cited “weighty allegations of abuse of office leveled against him” as the reason for the President’s decision.
Since his arrest, the DSS has kept mum on the specific offenses for which Bawa was arrested, the level of investigation and whether charges would be filed against him in court.
In 2021, Mr Bawa took over the affairs at the commission under similar circumstances when his predecessor, Ibrahim Magu, was suspended from office by then-President Muhammadu Buhari, over allegations of corruption.