Gabriel Ogbonna: Despite bail, DSS detains lawyer who said Ikpeazu swore oath – Adegboruwa
Twenty-four hours after Inibehe Effiong, the lawyer to Kufre Carter accused the Department of State Services (DSS) of holding a journalist even after perfecting his bail, a similar alarm has been raised.
On Sunday, prominent lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, alerted Nigerians that Gabriel Ogbonna, a legal practitioner based in Aba, Abia State, is in DSS custody even after bail perfection.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in a statement, said Ogbonna was first arrested on March 24, 2020, by operatives of the DSS, the Nigeria Police and initially taken to the Abia State Police Command.
Adegboruwa revealed that Ogbonna was confronted with “a petition written against him that he published falsehood against the Governor of Abia State and that the latter swore an oath at the Ancient Harashima”.
He recalled that the activist was arraigned before the Magistrate’s Court, remanded in custody and later charged before the Federal High Court in Umuahia which admitted him to bail.
Adegboruwa stated that Ogbonna perfected the bail conditions and was released from the Correctional Centre on April 28, 2020, but was “arrested immediately by the Abia State Director of Department of State Services (DSS) and transferred to Abuja”.
Noting that it is proper for law enforcement agencies to do their best to investigate, detect and prosecute crimes, “once the court has intervened by granting bail to a defendant, such an order must be respected and not be subverted through devious means or by subterfuge”.
The senior advocate described the conduct of the DSS in transferring Ogbonna to Abuja whilst his case is still pending before the court as “an arrant violation of the order of the court granting him bail”.
Adegboruwa warned members of the executive arm of government to willingly submit themselves to the authority of the courts as demanded by the constitution and not seek to denigrate that hallowed institution.
Citing President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent signing of Executive Order No. 10 which grants autonomy to the judiciary, the senior lawyer said it is thus improper to claim to then take the independence away with another through willful disobedience of court orders.
“I call upon the President to call the Director of DSS to order, to avoid another scenario of what happened in the case of Omoyele Sowore Ogbonna’s attention is needed by his pregnant wife, he also has a precarious medical history, having suffered gunshot wounds from an attempted assassination upon his life in the past.
“With the health challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, this is not the time to embark upon indiscriminate arrest and detention of citizens. Indeed, the government only recently directed that the Correctional Centres be decongested. The DSS must obey the order of the court granting bail to Mr. Ogbonna”.
Adegboruwa added that if there were further allegations against the activist, he should be charged to court without delay in line with the requirement of the constitution.