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21 Mar 2018

Falana decries action as DSS abducts Lagos port worker at midnight, denies whereabouts

A trader, Mrs. Mariam Ajao, has raised the alarm after her husband, Moruf, was allegedly abducted by some operatives of the Department of State Services, Lagos State Command.

Mariam said the security operatives stormed her family’s residence in the Aguda, Surulere area around 1.30am on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

She explained that the men, who were dressed in black, scaled the fence of the house into the compound, adding that they were about to pull down the door with an ax when the family awoke.

Mariam said her husband, a freight worker at the Apapa Port, was whisked away and she was given a wrong address after she ran after the officials’ vehicles to know where they were taking Moruf to.

She said since then, she had yet to see the 35-year-old Idofian, Kwara State indigene, even as DSS offices in Lagos and Abuja denied having him in custody.

Mariam described the past two weeks without her husband as hell, saying her three children had been asking for their father.

She said, “We were asleep when they came around 1.30am that day. They came in three vehicles which they parked outside the compound.

“They had scaled the fence into the house and were about using an ax to break down the door when we woke up. I opened the door and they asked why I delayed in opening it. I said we didn’t hear when they knocked. I asked what the problem was, but they didn’t answer. They asked my husband if he was Moruf Ajao and he said yes. They took him outside and asked me to bring his clothes and phones.

“My three little children had woken up and were trembling. I was also afraid. They said we should be calm. They didn’t reply to all my enquiries. Except for their black shirts that had the inscription, ‘DSS’, they didn’t show their ID cards. I ran and cried after their vehicles before they reluctantly gave me an address.”

Our correspondent learnt that when the family could not locate the address, they visited the DSS office on CMD Road, Magodo, Ikosi, Ketu.

The officials reportedly did not give the family audience.

Mariam said the family reported the case at the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, where the information was radioed to security agencies in the state.

Moruf’s name was reportedly traced to the DSS’ office at Magodo.

“We returned to the place. Because we had a paper from the police command headquarters, we were allowed into the facility. Immediately I got in, I saw one of those who took my husband away that night. But nobody gave any information about my husband.

“I went back the following day with a lawmaker introduced to me by one of my husband’s friends. We asked for one Mr. Wale, whom we learnt was their boss. The said Mr.Wale told us that my husband had been transferred to Abuja,” she added.

The lawmaker, who was said to be based in Abuja but had visited Lagos at the time, was said to have visited the agency’s two offices in Abuja and was told the victim had not been transferred as claimed by Wale.

Mariam, who wondered what her husband did wrong, said the family was distressed because the DSS had not said what happened to him.

“Up till now, I have not been allowed to see or talk to him, not even on the telephone. Anytime I go to the DSS office at Magodo, they chase me away like a dog because I have become a nuisance to them.

“My husband and I have been together for over 12 years now. I know him. He does not do shady deals. I cry every day. I can’t answer my children’s questions again,” she said.

A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, whose law firm is handling the case, described the alleged action of the DSS as unconstitutional and illegal.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, called on Nigerians to condemn the act, which he said was unacceptable in a democratic society.

He said, “The arrest is illegal; the abduction is illegal; the refusal to disclose his whereabouts to members of his family is illegal; and the refusal to allow them access to him is illegal. The entire action is alien to Section 6 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State which stipulates that anybody who is arrested should be entitled to legal service and access to his family members. In fact, the security agency at their own cost, are supposed to contact his family members.

“The practice of detaining Nigerians and holding them incommunicado is a thing of the past and cannot be justified under a government that claims to be following the tenets of a democratic society. No Nigerian can be detained in a place like Lagos or Abuja for more than 48 hours without a court order. This man has been detained beyond two weeks without access to his family and lawyers, which is highly reprehensible.”

The DSS does not have a spokesperson and hardly reacts to allegations of human rights abuses by its officials.

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