Few hours ago, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the Department of State Services to release Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare within 24 hours. Justice Ojukwu also awarded N100, 000 against DSS for the continued detention of Sowore despite being granted bail by two court orders.
In my opinion, the ruling of Justice Ojukwu is too little, too late. In a civilised democracy where the rule of law drives governance, Justice Ojukwu should have released the defendants when they first appeared before her many weeks ago by effecting the first court bail order by Justice Taiwo Taiwo. Once, the honourable judge missed the historical moment to set historical precedent, she should have released them today without the 24-hour condition. In addition, Justice Ojukwu should have awarded punitive damages in the millions against DSS for flouting two court orders.
The greatest threat to our democracy in Nigeria is the unfettered extra-judicial powers of DSS, which has constituted itself into unelected government. The incorrigible Peter Afunanya, DSS spokesperson, like the blind man in the fable, who tried to describe an elephant by feeling different parts of its body, regurgitated erroneous and frivolous reasons why Sowore and Bakare were not and should not be released.
DSS is a government within a government run by President Muhammadu Buhari and the twin demagogues Yusuf Magaji Bichi and Peter Afunanya. DSS assumes powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, DSS sets aside court rulings and issues its own rules and judgments.
DSS as an unelected government not only write its own laws, it also interprets laws, judgments, and cherry picks which law or judgment to enforce in its own court. The DSS subverts our constitution, arrogates to itself the power to incarcerate and the power to jail, the power to grant life and the power to take it. DSS uses its administrative powers to overrule judgments of competent court of law and eliminates our fundamental procedural freedoms granted by our constitution. The DSS is the torture chamber that re-legislates and rewrites our laws.
Since the time of Herodotus, democracy has meant the rule of the people. But in the case of Nigeria, the reverse is the case. DSS as an unchecked powerful agency is the enemy of liberal democracy. If a democracy does not preserve liberty and law, then it is not a democracy: It’s tyranny of the minority.
This is 21st century. We live in a democratic age. Flip through the pages of world history, you’ll discover that citizens’ life and liberty have forever been in danger because of absolutism of monarchies, the dogma of churches, and the terror of dictatorships. There is no acceptable substitute to democracy. Our democracy has become a tyranny of unchecked unelected government agency made possible by our castrated and undermined National Assembly. Our democracy is in danger!
Let’s hope DSS will not go back to its vomit by insulting our sensibilities why Sowore and Bakare would not be released within the 24-hour deadline.