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Public officials should take heed of Bawa, Emefiele’s cases, says Falana



Human rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, has issued a call to public officials, urging them to draw important lessons from the recent experiences of two prominent figures in Nigeria’s government: Abdulrasheed Bawa, the incarcerated chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and Godwin Emefiele, the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In a comprehensive statement released on Monday, Falana not only criticized the Department of State Services (DSS) for its failure to adhere to the principles of the rule of law but also emphasized that both Bawa and Emefiele had displayed a tendency to disregard court orders during their respective tenures in office.

Falana pointed out that, although these two individuals had a history of defying court orders while in their official capacities, the DSS was equally at fault for illegally detaining them without proper legal justification.

Furthermore, Falana highlighted a critical legal point, stating that under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, a remand order is only valid for a maximum of 56 days. Given that the detention of Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa has surpassed this permitted period, Falana called for immediate action to secure his release from unlawful 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,” Falana said.

He also said the Department of State Services lacked the legal authority to keep holding him.

The statement further reads, “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.”