Three Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) say Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has questions to answer on the illegal detention of Deji Adeyanju, Convener of Concerned Nigerians.

Therefore, they called on the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee respectively to withdraw the rank of SAN conferred on Keyamo as well as his licence to practise law in Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement signed by Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution; Adebayo Raphael, Co-Convener, Free Nigeria Movement and Moses Paul of MadConnect, made available to SaharaReporters on Thursday.

The groups lamented the “illegal arrest and detention” of Adeyanju, noting that Adeyanju has been in custody for more than six weeks now.

Highlighting the events that led to Adeyanju’s remand in custody, the groups said: “Adeyanju was first detained at a Police facility in Garki, Abuja, during which time he was deprived of access to his family members and lawyers. He was then secretly transferred to a police station in Kano and arraigned before a Magistrates’ Court. On 30/01/2019 he was arraigned before a Kano State High Court on charges of attempted murder.”

According to the groups, the charge for which Adeyanju has been held for the past 48 days relates to allegations for which he was tried and acquitted by a Kano State High Court in a trial that lasted from 2005 to 2009.

The statement read: “It is instructive to point out that Mr. Adeyanju was arrested, tried and acquitted along with three other people, none of whom have been arrested or invited for questioning in the course of the last 48 days.

“Mr. Adeyanju’s arrest, detention and arraignment on these charges constitute a blatant violation of the provisions of Section 36(9) the Constitution which stipulate that: ‘No person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for a criminal offence having the same ingredients as that offence save upon the order of a superior court.’

“Mr. Adeyanju’s arrest and detention also constitutes a violation of his rights to dignity of his person, personal liberty and fair hearing. It is also important to note that during the course of his trial in 2009, Mr. Adeyanju was represented by Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), who is currently the spokesperson for the re-election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari. This fact is important in the light of Mr. Adeyanju’s criticism of the Buhari administration over the last three years, which had resulted in several arrests and detentions. 

“It is instructive to note that Mr. Keyamo now works for the Buhari presidency which by all indications wants Mr Adeyanju out of circulation before, during and immediately after the 2019 general election for obvious reasons. Mr. Keyamo’s stoic silence is the matter, at the expense of the continued violation of the rights of a person he once represented, therefore fuels concerns in the thoughts of many Nigerians that he may have played a key role in the design and execution of the plot to keep Mr. Adeyanju out of circulation in order to protect their interests of President Buhari and his campaign.

“It is nearly impossible to escape this conclusion, seeing as a person of Mr. Keyamo’s standing in society and antecedents – especially as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) – who should have been at the forefront of demands for Mr. Adeyanju’s release, knowing the facts of his acquittal in that matter, has chosen to remain silent. It is nearly impossible to resist the conclusion that Mr. Keyamo may have chosen to sacrifice his professional ethics on the altar of regime protection and at the expense of justice.

“We reiterate our calls for Mr. Adeyanju’s unconditional release seeing as the allegations for which he is currently detained has been heard to a conclusion by a court of competent jurisdiction resulting in his discharge and acquittal.

“It is obvious that Mr. Keyamo indeed has questions to answer on issues related to the illegal arrest and detention of Mr. Adeyanju. We, therefore, call on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to conduct investigations into the circumstance surrounding Mr. Keyamo’s involvement in Mr. Adeyanju’s illegal detention. We also call on the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee respectively to withdraw the rank of SAN conferred on Mr. Keyamo as well as his licence to practise law in Nigeria. Justice must be upheld.”

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