The All Progressives Congress, APC, has accused the Department of State Services, DSS, of resorting to the use of torture to obtain forced confessions from the workers who were arrested during the first raid on the party’s Data Centre in Ikeja, calling it a contravention of the UN Convention against Torture to which Nigeria is a signatory and a violation of the citizens’ fundamental human rights.
The party, in a statement issued in Lagos on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, said for the avoidance of doubt, it is necessary to quote a relevant section of the UN Convention to put the DSS on notice that it may be treading on dangerous ground, as it continues in its efforts to intimidate, harass and weaken the opposition to give the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, an undue advantage ahead of the 2015 polls.
It quoted Part 1 Article 1 of the UN Convention as saying in part: “For the purpose of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession……”
APC said the DSS operatives, who arrested the workers, shackled their hands and legs and blindfolded them while they were being taken to Abuja.
“The workers remained in chains even at the dark detention cell where they were made to sleep on the bare floor for the 10 days they were detained illegally, while none of their family members knew their whereabouts all through their ordeal. Guns were pointed at their heads by DSS personnel who threatened to shoot them, while verbal insults were hauled at them as if they were common criminals. It is simply incredible that Nigerians can be treated like this under a democratic dispensation”, it said.
APC also said a pregnant woman among those who were arrested was denied access to her drugs even when she started bleeding due to the torture to which she was subjected by the DSS.
The party said having coerced, tortured and bullied them to say and write what suits the purpose of the DSS, the agency now gleefully issued a statement saying what it has found during its investigations, in the wake of the illegal raid on the APC Data Centre, will shock the world.
“DSS, Nigerians and indeed the entire world are already shocked by your actions, including the resort to the use of torture, in violation of an international Convention which Nigeria has signed and ratified, to obtain false information from the arrested APC workers. What more shock can come from an institution of state that treated Nigerian citizens like animals in a gross violation of fundamental human rights?
“What more shock can come from an institution of state that has now so shamelessly become the enforcement arm of the ruling PDP, to such an extent that it would even engage in untold illegal acts just to demonize the opposition. What more shock can come from an institution of state that could resort to this crude tactics even under a democratic dispensation?” it queried.
The leading opposition party vowed to seek justice for the innocent Nigerians who were treated worse than prisoners of war in their own country, by an agency of state that is maintained with tax payers’ funds, and which is expected to be fair and non-partisan in its operations.
The party also said every legal measure would be taken to ensure that the DSS does not profit from its wanton use of torture, intimidation and verbal assault of innocent citizens to obtain forced confessions just to satisfy its masters
It reiterated its earlier call on all Nigerians with the necessary influence, including statesmen, professionals, as well as religious leaders, to call the DSS to order before it plunges the nation into chaos with its shameless, unprofessional and crude tactics in support of a desperate power mongers.
“Our democracy is in clear and present danger, not just from desperate politicians, but also from institutions of state that have compromised in their roles and resorted to crass lawlessness”, APC said.