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FG: Why it’s dangerous to release Dasuki now

The Federal Government has explained why former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd) was still being held by the Department of State Services (DSS).

It said Dasuki was being held on the ground of national security, owing to his involvement in the over $2 billion arms deal and for his safety. The government added that with the quantum of arms and ammunition recovered from Dasuki’s Abuja home, which he allegedly kept illegally, there was the general apprehension that he possesses more, which the state was yet to discover.

It argued that Dasuki’s detention was justified based on the intelligence and security report in the disposal of the nation’s security agencies and that national security supersedes individual’s security.

These formed the submission of the lawyer to the government, T. D. Kabiru, while arguing the defendant’s case in the suit filed by Dasuki, before the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Abuja, challenging his continued detention.
Kabiru said: “The position of the defence, which is not controverted by the applicant, is that the arms and ammunition recovered during the search is not the only arms and ammunition in the possession of the applicant.

“There is fear that he has more. There is intelligence report that some are yet to be recovered. That we fear he has more is a ground to hold him. There are ongoing investigations, which are revealing fresh facts concerning him.

“The right of an individual cannot supersede the security of a country when there is intelligence report to suspect the conduct of the individual. The applicant did not deny that these guns were recovered from his house.

“By Section 3 of the Firearms Act, CAP F28 LFN 2004, Part One of the Schedule thereof prescribes the arms that cannot be licensed for individual’s possession. The arms found in his house fall into this category of prohibited arms.

“Since they were illegally kept by the applicant, the deduction is that they were kept for illegal purposes. The Federal Republic of Nigeria has justified, with the evidence it has placed before the court, the detention of the applicant on ground of his own safety, and for the safety of other Nigerians by virtue of the security report received by the DSS.

“The law permits the DSS to restrict the movement of even the President, if there is security or intelligence that his life is at risk.”

He urged the court not to grant Dasuki’s prayers on the ground that he failed to provide evidence on which the court could act; having allegedly failed to prove that he met the conditions attached to the bail granted him by Nigerian courts. The government called two witnesses, who are operatives of the DSS as witness. The first, Williams Obiora, an Assistant Director, who was led in evidence by Kabiru, gave details of how his team searched Dasuki’s house and recovered arms and ammunition, including cash. Another DSS operative, Samuel Ogbu, on Wednesday, while testifying in another case involving Dasuki, identified items recovered in the ex-NSA’s house as including: five Tavor rifles, one Lugar rifle, one micro Uzi rifle, various categories of ammunition and cash in both local and foreign currencies.

Ogbu testified in the trial of Dasuki on charges of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition and money laundering before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Under cross-examination by Dasuki’s lawyer, Roberts Emukperuo, he confirmed that Dasuki had been granted bail by a Nigerian court in relation to the charge over illegal arms possession and that he was released.

He said Dasuki’s detention was on the basis of further intelligence at the disposal of the DSS.

Obiora said he did not know whether there was a detention warrant authorising the applicant’s further detention.

“I am not aware that the applicant requested for the DSS’ protection. But it is within our mandate to ensure the protection of every citizen once we ascertain his life is in danger or needed to be protected,” he said.

The second defence witness, Alu Agbi, an expert in weapon handling and training, told the court that “the calibre of arms and ammunition found in Dasuki’s house are prohibited weapons under the nation’s law, which individuals are not licensed to possess”.

“I was trained on Uzi rifles. I was also trained on Tavor assault rifle, manufactured in Israel. The manufacturers were in Nigeria to train us.

“The Tavor weapon fires 5.56 by 45 millimetres ammunition. It is capable of firing 810 metres per second to 960 metres by second in velocity. It is also capable of firing 700 and 1000 rounds of ammunition in a minute.

“It is a prohibited weapon. These weapons are prohibited because individuals are not allowed to possess it, except a staff of the security agency, who it is assigned to for assignment purpose, following which they are returned.

“Tavor has effective range of 500 and 550 metres away from the firer. Uzi is 300 metres. Since they are prohibited weapons, they are not supposed to be kept by private individuals. They could use it against the interest of the state or community,” Agbi said.

Under cross-examination, he said he saw the five pieces of Tavor rifles recovered from the applicant’s house.

He could not say the exact date he trained in the handling of Tavor, but that it is about five years back.

When asked by the court, Agbi said he was not part of the team that recovered the weapons found in the applicant’s house

He also said the weapons were in the custody of the DSS.

In his final submission, Emukperuo urged the court to discountenance the defendant’s arguments and grant his client’s prayers. He argued that the defendant has contradicted itself in arguing that the applicant did not provide evidence to show that he has met the bail granted him, having admitted in another part of its evidence that the applicant met his bail, was released and later arrested on new information. He noted that the reasons given by Obiora were not about national security as argued by the defence lawyer. A three-man bench led by Justice Friday Nwoke adjourned to June 29 for judgment.

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