Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) says the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki breached the law for refusing to allow officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) “free and unhindered access” to search his residence for several hours last Thursday.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Lagos lawyer said contrary to reports, the search conducted on Dasuki’s residence house was legal and authorized by law, since the DSS obtained and presented him with a search warrant issued by a Magistrate.
“The fundamental rights to personal liberty and privacy of the home of every Nigerian citizen are constitutionally guaranteed.
As fundamental rights are not absolute they may be breached in accordance with a procedure permitted by law.
“Hence, by virtue of section 146 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the residence of any citizen can be searched with a warrant duly signed by a Judge, Magistrate or Justice of the Peace.
“Section 149 thereof imposes a duty on any person residing in any building which is liable to be searched to allow free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search,” Falana stated.
“It is pertinent to point out that the law requires the owner or occupier of any house or apartment to allow a search once a search warrant signed by the appropriate authority is produced by law enforcement personnel. Without any legal basis whatsoever, Col. Dasuki breached the law when he refused to allow the SSS officials “free and unhindered access” to his residence for several hours last Thursday.
“Contrary to the misleading information circulated in the media by the former NSA, his house was not illegally raided but lawfully searched pursuant to a warrant issued by a Magistrate. Since we operate a neo-colonial legal system which confers special privileges on people of influence, Col Dasuki was treated with dignity in the circumstance.
Falana, however, admitted that it was illegal for the DSS to seize Dasuki’s passport as reported.
“The SSS ought to be reminded of the case of the Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba (1995) 3 N.W.L.R. (Pt 595) 314, wherein the Supreme Court held that the passport of a Nigerian citizen could not be seized without due process.
“It would be recalled that the seizure of the passport of Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi ( the current Emir of Kano) by the SSS under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Federal High Court. In addition to the order for the immediate release of the passport the court awarded N50 million reparation to the then embattled Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Therefore, the SSS should return the passport of Col. Dasuki to him forthwith unless its seizure has been authorized by a court of law,” Falana said.