The Department of State Services (DSS) has secretly arrested a young journalist, Ayoola Babalola. DSS also charged him to court in discreet and Babalola is currently in prison.
Outspoken lawyer cum rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, made the revelation on Twitter.
Effiong disclosed that Babalola was arrested over articles about President Muhammadu Buhari, national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinunu, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore.
He tweeted: “Late on Friday, I was alerted that my client Mr. Ayoola Babalola, a courageous student activist and young journalist, was arrested and charged to court for allegedly publishing certain articles in a Campus Newspaper called GAPOSA Trumpet in which he served as the Editor.”
“Babalola recently graduated from the Gateway Polytechnic located in Sapaade, Ogun State, where he read Mass Communication.”
“The said articles which were deemed critical of President Buhari, APC Leader, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the EFCC also led to the dismissal of a lecturer of Gateway Polytechnic who served as the Producer of the campus newspaper.”
“He was arrested on Thursday in Abeokuta by the State Security Service (SSS) and taken before a Magistrate Court on Friday. His appeal to the SSS for him to be allowed to contact me as his counsel was rebuffed.”
“Mr. Babalola was only able to contact me through a third party from the Ibara Maximum Prison in Abeokuta where he was remanded by the court.”
“I understand that he was arraigned on a six-count charge bothering on alleged incitement, conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace and so on for allegedly publishing critical articles against President Buhari.”
“The said articles also related to the travails of the leader of the RevolutionNow movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and student activist, Comrade Femi Adeyeye.”
“Before his secret arrest and arraignment, Babalola briefed me over repressive actions which he believed Gateway Polytechnic may likely take against him over the articles.”
“Mr. Babalola also intimated me that the SSS were possibly trailing him because of the said articles. I condemn this despotic and needless actions by the SSS. It is a shame that at a time the country is battling serious security challenges, the SSS rather than protect Nigeria, is paranoid about any form of criticism against the Buhari regime.”
“The SSS has continued to expose the country to public and international ridicule over its flagrant violation of the rights of Nigerians and shameless disregard for the rule of law and democratic ethos.”
Inibehe Effiong, who vowed to challenge the secret arrest and prosecution in court, added that the DSS will not be allowed to turn Nigeria into a police state.
Calls to DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, were not answered or returned as at press time.
The DSS has been repeatedly accused of secretly picking citizens at will.
In some cases, Nigerians are illegally detained for weeks or years without trial.
One of such is the horrifying story how a Nigerian, Abdullahi Ahmadu, has been incarcerated by the DSS since 2013 without access to the court or family members.
Recently, another Nigerian, Anthony Okolie, was arrested and detained by the DSS for 10 weeks for ownership of a phone number recycled after it became dormant.
Okolie, who legally purchased the line from service provider MTN, was secretly kept because the number earlier belonged to President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hanan.
Okolie has dragged the DSS, Hanan, and MTN Nigeria, to court over the violation of his fundamental human rights.
DAILY POST reports that these and other instances are often cited in reports on Nigeria by right groups but the government and security agencies usually dismiss them.
Meanwhile, Abubakar Idris aka Dadiyata, a strong critic of the federal and Kano State governments is still missing. Expectedly, the DSS is being labeled the culprit.
In reaction, the agency said the fact that Dadiyata was taken away from his house by some armed men does not suggest that they were its operatives staff.
“For the sake of emphasis, the Service has no reason to deny its arrest and detention of suspects if actually it carried out operations during which such persons were arrested.”
“It is not out of place for security and law enforcement agencies to arrest and detain lawbreakers or those suspected to be. The arrest and detention of suspects are procedural and undergo continuous review.”
“In certain conditions, some are routinely questioned and released while others are granted administrative bail. Some who are still under investigation or already undergoing prosecution are held on the basis of court orders”, Afunaya had explained.