June 14, 2024

Continued Detention of Abdulrasheed Bawa: NBA-SPIDEL Tells DSS to ‘Charge him to Court or Release him,’ Condemns Impunity

SECTION ON PUBLIC INTEREST AND DEVELOPMENT LAW
NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION
NATIONAL SECRETARIAT

NBA Headquarters, Plot 1101 Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja 08023063841, 08183375109
W: www.nbaspidel.ng
e:info@nbaspidel.ng
nbaspidel

THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF ABDULRASHEED BAWA, THE SUSPENDED CHAIRMAN OF THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION MUST BE PROTECTED AND RESPECTED.

The Nigerian Bar Association- Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) expresses it’s unreserved displeasure at the flagrant disregard for the rule of law being exhibited by the Department of State Service (DSS) in the continued detention of Abdulrasheed Bawa, the suspended Chairman of the EFCC. The continued detention of the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa by the DSS is in violation of his fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

For the records, Abdulrasheed Bawa was arrested on the 14th day of June, 2023 and has since remained in detention and custody of the Department of State Security without being charged to court. This is in gross violation of section 35(4) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 35(4) of the constitution provides that “any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subsection (1)(c) of this section shall be brought before a court within a reasonable time, and if he is not tried within a period of-
Two months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who is in custody or is not entitled to bail; or
Three months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who has been released on bail,
He shall (without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him) be released either unconditionally or upon such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial at a later date.”

As enshrined in section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the period of the detention of the suspended EFCC Chairman without being tried or granted bail has surpassed the time permitted by law; that is, 24 hours, for a suspect to be brought before a court of law upon his being arrested on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence and 2 months within which he is to be tried.
NBA-SPIDEL is of the considered view that a holistic interpretation of section 35(4)(a) is to the effect that in all circumstances, a citizen cannot be detained beyond 2 months without being charged to court to be tried, notwithstanding that an order of court may have ordered the detention of the person. In simple terms, it is unconstitutional in itself for a court to order for the detention of a citizen beyond 2 months without bail and without being charged to court for trial, except it is in a case bordering on capital offence.

NBA-SPIDEL notes that Abdulrasheed Bawa was notorious for disobeying orders of court and for gross disrespect for the rule of law and rights of the people. However, promoting the rule of law and defending the rights of the people, without discrimination and sentiments is the forte and sacred duty of the Nigerian Bar Association in general, and that of SPIDEL in particular. NBA-SPIDEL shall continue to serve as a bulwark against impunity, no matter the notoriety of the intended beneficiary of its advocacy. Impunity must never be encouraged or supported by the advocates of the rule of law to take root.
SPIDEL therefore expresses dismay over the continued detention of Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa without any charge before a court of competent jurisdiction. NBA-SPIDEL regards the continued detention of the suspended EFCC Chairman as illegal, smacks of impunity, and as an invitation to anarchy, chaos and selective application of the law.
We strongly state that the continued detention of Abdulrasheed Bawa from the 14th day of June, 2023 till date without being charged to a court of competent jurisdiction is unconstitutional and antithetical to Nigeria’s democracy.

On a final note, NBA-SPIDEL had believed that with President Bola Tinubu at the helms of affairs of Nigeria, the promotion of the rule of law in Nigeria will substantially improve; we hope we are not mistaken. We further call on Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney-General of the Federation to use his good office to ensure that the actions of the Department of State Security (DSS) are at all times guided by the law.
We therefore humbly request that Abdulrasheed Bawa be charged to court immediately or released conditionally or unconditionally pending trial in accordance with section 35(4) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

John Aikpokpo-Martins
Chairman.
Funmi Adeogun
Secretary.

John Aikpokpo-Martins – Chairman
Dr. Princess Frank-Chukwuani – Vice Chairman
Funmi Adeogun – Secretary
Chinedu Obienu – Treasurer
Abdullahi Karaye – Financial Secretary
Charity Ibezim – Assistant Secretary

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