NEWS LEAKS AGENCY - NIGERIA NEWS TODAY & Breaking News | Naija News Today

Ebonyi Lawyer Arrested by DSS in 2021 Still in Custody Without Charge

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Ebonyi Lawyer Arrested by DSS in 2021 Still in Custody Without Charge

The Department of State Services (DSS) has refused to either release Piu Awoke, an Ebonyi-based lawyer who was indiscriminately arrested by the agency in 2021, or charge him in court.

A source who is familiar with the matter but does not want to be named told the Press that Awoke was arrested by the DSS while he was travelling from Ebonyi to Abuja over a case at the Federal High Court.

He also said that the DSS has deliberately denied everyone access to him, including his professional colleagues, since his arrest.

“Awoke was travelling from Ebonyi to Abuja when officials of the DSS stopped his commercial vehicle and arrested him. They arrested all the men who were on the bus, including him, thinking they were of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) sect,” the source told the Press.

“No one said anything to us for a long time; then later, they said he was being held for terrorism. But even this was a rumour; we had no official statement about the charge against him from the DSS, as lawyers and relatives were barred from interfacing with it.”

The source also said that at some point, he heard that the court had mandated the DSS to present Awoke before a judge but the agency refused.

A copy of the petition written to the National Assembly about Awoke’s disappearance

“At the earlier stage, someone went to court demanding Awoke’s release from the DSS,” the source said.

“The court ordered the DSS to charge him within a month, but, normally, they refused, and they have failed to obey up to this day. It seems the court is scared of the State Security Service, as it couldn’t prevail over them to do what is right.

“We have written to the National Assembly of Nigeria (NASS) and the House committee on public petition, but all to no avail.”

When the Press asked if Awoke was handling a case that might have made him a target of the DSS or committed a crime, the source said, “He is a vibrant human rights lawyer, and even if he has committed any crime, the constitution requires that he should be charged within 24 hours, at most 48.

“If a lawyer can be detained without trial for three years, then no one is safe.”

Also, in a petition written by Chigozie Nwankwo, chairman of the Abakaliki branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), to the national president on May 9 and sighted by the Press, he said Awoke was one of the lawyers to appear in a case involving Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

He also said Awoke is now being held by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and is detained in their facility in Minna, Niger State.

“The information available to me is that our learned colleague was among the lawyers who were briefed to appear in a matter involving the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, which came up on the 26th July, 2021,” the petition read in part.

“I have been reliably informed that our learned colleague has been handed over to the office and men of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and he is currently being detained at their facility in Minna, Niger State. He has been denied access to his family and friends since his detention on 26th July, 2021. It is in view of the foregoing that I seek your kind intervention for the release or arraignment/trial of our dear member.”

Our Reporter’s phone calls to Peter Afunnaya, the spokesperson of the DSS, on Tuesday afternoon were not answered. A text message sent to him for comments on Awoke’s arrest and whereabouts was also not responded to.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.