The Indigenous People of Biafra has slammed the Department of State Services over a statement by the secret service’s spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, denying the forceful abduction of citizens.
The IPOB accused the DSS of forcefully abducting citizens, adding that Amnesty International was correct with its publication exposing the inhumane activities of the secret service.
This was contained in a statement by the IPOB’s lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, on Friday.
Amnesty International had accused the DSS of abducting and terrorising citizens at will.
In a statement on Wednesday, titled, ‘Police, SSS abducting innocent Nigerians under Buhari regime,’ the human rights organisation said it was unfortunate that the Nigerian government continued to use enforced disappearance as a longstanding tactic to silence critics and instil fear in civilian populations.
To mark the commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared, AI said, “Nigerian authorities must show genuine commitment to ending the heinous crime of enforced disappearances, which is still prevalent in the country.
“When people are arrested by state agents, without any trace of their whereabouts, and the state denies knowledge of where they are, their families are exposed to unthinkable suffering; they find it difficult to move on as they wait each day in anguish, hoping their loved ones’ return.
“Between 2020 to 2022, Amnesty International Nigeria has documented several cases of enforced disappearances, mass arrest, torture, extortions, ill-treatment, and extrajudicial executions by law enforcement officers responding to the activities of IPOB in the South-East and South-West.”
Reacting to the AI’s claims, the DSS, in a statement on Wednesday, denied engaging in the abduction of Nigerians, adding that the secret service only endeavours to protect them.
Responding to this, IPOB’s lead counsel, Ejiofor, claimed that Amnesty International was correct in its accusation of the DSS over forceful abduction.
Ejiofor said, “Enforced disappearance is the secret abduction or imprisonment of a person by a state or political organisation, or by a third party with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of a state or political organisation, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law, and the DSS is guilty of this.”
Citing the International Convention on Enforced Disappearance, the IPOB’s lead counsel wondered whether the DSS was conscious of the provisions of the convention which was against the abduction of citizens by the state or any of its agency.
He said, “My attention has been drawn to the press statement credited to the DSS National spokesperson, Mr Peter Afunanya, in relation to this subject. I initially treated the obvious misinformation from the DSS, emanating from their spokesperson, as part of social media contrive until I watched the video clip last night.
“A careful look at Mr Afunanya’s facial expression as he was busy vainly trying to distort facts, depicts that of a drowning man struggling to survive, and strenuously conjecturing blatant lies to defend the uncivil activities of a supposed democratic institution like the DSS.”
Ejiofor queried the secret service, asking whether it had a legal means of carrying out its operations rather than the abduction of citizens.
“If one may ask – if the operatives of the DSS’ style of operation is not by enforcing forceful disappearance, kidnapping, and abduction of innocent citizens at the wee hours of the night, what other style permissible under the law have they been adopting in their operations? Maybe Mr Afunanya will throw more light on this.
“May I remind Afunanya that my office has countless number of judgements and orders from courts of competent jurisdiction, compelling the DSS to produce those they abducted at the wee hours of the night, and release them unconditionally. The list is endless.”
He noted that, on June 6, 2021, the operatives of the DSS led a bloody onslaught on his home in Oraifite, adding that the invaders gruesomely murdered his personal assistant, and dumped his lifeless body inside the boot of his car, zoomed off with his corpse, and later set the corpse ablaze inside his car around Neni town, in Anambra State.
He added that during the night of the incident, three of his domestic staff were abducted by the DSS.
“During the same unprovoked murderous attack on my peaceful home, three of my domestic staff were abducted by the soulless operatives of the DSS in conjunction with their criminal counterparts in security uniforms. These persons namely, Mr Felix Okonkwo, my driver, Mr Okafor Ugochukwu, my gardener, and Ikenna Chibuike, my steward, are still being held in the detention facility of the DSS here in Abuja, since June 6, 2021 to date. More worrisome is that after being served with judgement and order of court of competent jurisdiction, directing for the immediate release of the three domestic staff abducted from my residence, the DSS is still manifestly in contempt of the court judgement and orders.
“The same office from where Mr. Afunanya is shamelessly dishing out falsehood. What other term could be used to describe this type of operation, if not forceful kidnapping and enforced disappearance of innocent Nigerian citizens?” He quipped.
He noted that it was disheartening to note that in the 21st century, the DSS is treating with great contempt the orders of courts of competent jurisdiction served on them.
“The DSS has by their very modus operandi, constituted themselves into a law, even under a democratic government. Otherwise, how can one explain that over ten pronouncements and directives of the Federal High Court Abuja, Coram Nyako, affecting the management and welfare of our indefatigable client, Nnamdi Kanu, were all flouted with impunity by the DSS.
“The most troubling part is the specific orders of the court requiring admittance of Kanu’s personal physician for an independent medical opinion on his health status, but till date, the DSS continues to flout this order of court with impunity.”
Mentioning names of persons allegedly forcefully abducted and detained by the DSS, Ejiofor said, “Jude Obasi, Chidiebere Echefu, Godwin Idara, Ikechukwu Henry, Mr Sunday Ifedi and Mrs Calista Ifedi, Solomon Onyegbulam, Ezike Nwambam, Kenneth Ojima, Onyeibe Chinonso, Igwe Johnson, Okezie Fortune, David Ogbonnaya, Chinedu Nwaoba, Aja Joseph, Barrister Awoke, Kingsley Chima, Emeka Ngonadi, Ukpai Michael, Ibeleme Tochukwu, Chinaedu Ejesu, all abducted at different times in 2021, and had gotten judgment from the courts for their unconditional release, are yet to be freed by the DSS.
“These are persons who the DSS variously enforced their disappearances at the wee hours of the night without any court order, and anytime we succeeded in securing an order from court granting them bail, the DSS will quickly rush back to the Federal High Court to obtain their own order to legitimise their illegal act.” The IPOB counsel said.