The Rule of Law and Accountability Center has asked Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari, to order the release of Abia State-based lawyer, Emperor Gabriel Ogbonna, who is being detained by the State Security Services.
The group in statement signed by Okechukwu Nwanguma on Wednesday said the continued detention of Ogbonna was in flagrant disobedience of a court order calling for his release on bail.
It reads, "The SSS has now established itself as a lawless organisation with an ignoble pattern of engaging in politically-motivated arrest and indefinite detention incommunicado of government critics
and disobedience to court orders.
"The President must at this time intervene and save our democracy from being derailed by the SSS. It's time for the President to curtail the excesses of the SSS and call its leaders to order.
"RULAAC is informed that Emperor Ogbonna was initially arrested in his office by operatives of the State Security Service and armed policemen and had been in detention since March 24, 2020. He was first taken to the Abia State Police Command where he was confronted with a petition written against him alleging that he published falsehood against the governor of Abia State, and that the governor swore to an oath at the Ancient Harashima.
"He was eventually arraigned before the Magistrate’s Court which remanded him in custody. He was later charged before the Federal High Court, Umuahia, and was admitted to bail by the said court.
"Ogbonna perfected the conditions of his bail and was released from the correctional centre on April 28, 2020, but he was again arrested immediately by the Abia State Director of SSS who later transferred him to the headquarters in Abuja.
"The SSS is reported to have claimed that Ogbonna was re-arrested for another complaint against him, different from his alleged false claims against the Abia State governor. But even if this were to be true, his continued detention beyond the constitutionally permissible duration still makes it unlawful and a flagrant violation of his constitutional rights to liberty, presumption of innocence, human dignity and due process.
"If the SSS believes they have any reasonable grounds to re-arrest him or credible charges against him, they ought to have promptly handed him over to the police for prosecution, in accordance with due process.
"It is not only illegal, but also malicious and high-handed for the SSS to refuse to release Emperor Ogbonna or charge him to court and to also refuse his lawyers and family access to visit him despite his precarious health condition.
"Emperor Ogbonna's lawyer has disclosed that he is sick yet the SSS will not allow his family, lawyer and doctor to visit him. His family is seriously worried about the condition of his health and safety.
"His wife who is in her eighth month of pregnancy says her husband's continued detention, her not being allowed access to him and her anxiety about his condition are impacting seriously on her condition."
RULAAC therefore called on Buhari to prove his commitment to democracy and dictates of the rule of law by ordering the release of Ogbonna.