By Edith Nwapi
Abuja – Mr Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary (ES), National Human Rights Commission, has urged law enforcement agencies to abide by the rule of law and refrain from disobeying court orders.
Ojukwu gave this advice while reacting to the alleged refusal of officials of the Department of state services (DSS) to release on bail the social campaigner Omoyele Sowore after the order of his release by the trial courts and his lawyers meeting the bail conditions.
The executive secretary who frowned on Sowore’s continued detention noted that disobedience of court order was an invitation to uncertainty in the law.
According to Ojukwu, many cases have been reported to the commission about investigating police officers and state security officers deliberately refusing or delaying to verify bail conditions following court orders just to punish the suspects unduly for reasons that are not constitutional.
He added that the constitution guarantees the innocence of every citizen of Nigeria until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.
” A situation where the order of courts are continuously disobeyed by security agents makes such security agents judges onto themselves and such situation does not augur well for our democracy based on separation of powers and rule of law.
“It makes the law uncertain at any point in time and leads to loss of confidence of the people in government and state institutions of which the judiciary is one.
” A situation like this can also lead to self help thereby creating more problems for law enforcement agents and threaten the precarious situation of state responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill human rights in the country” he said.
He therefore called for renewed commitment on the part of law enforcement agents to submit to constituted authority and oversight and release all detainees who have met their bail conditions as ordered by the courts of the land.
He added by saying that ‘you cannot approbate and reprobate.’
On the part of the Commission, Ojukwu said they shall continue to train and sensitise law enforcement agents on the need to respect the law and the constitution which’ they have sworn to protect so as to engender a culture of respect for human rights in the country.’
Meanwhile, the Department of State Services (DSS), said no person turned up to take delivery of Sowore since a court order was received for his release.
Dr Peter Afunanya, the Public Relations’ Officer of the Service disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
He said the clarification was necessary for reasons of accountability adding that the service had received the court order for his release.
According to him, the Court has been properly briefed on the development and steps are being taken to ensure compliance with the order.
He said the service was not a lawless organisation and would never obstruct justice or disobey court orders.
Afunanya pledged the commitment of the service to do the needful upon completion of the appropriate processes for Sowore’s release.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Sowore was arrested on Aug.3, over allegation that he was leading a group known as RevolutionNow on a protest in the country.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court on Oct. 4 granted him bail in the sum N100 million with two sureties in the like sum.
The court ordered that N50 million of the amount be deposited with the court while the balance be put in place should Sowore jump bail.
The judge ordered Sowore’s sureties to deposit tax clearance certificates for three years, 2016 to 2018, and documents of landed properties in Abuja.
The court however, on Oct. 21 reviewed the bail conditions by waiving the earlier requirement that Sowore must deposit N50m as security.